U.S. Chamber Foundation Offers Tools for Employers to Expand Job Access

Posted January 12, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Father with laptop as child looks on

Two pub­li­ca­tions fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions and tools to help employ­ers, edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions and work­force orga­ni­za­tions work togeth­er more effec­tive­ly to expand job and career oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who his­tor­i­cal­ly have faced bar­ri­ers to enter­ing pro­fes­sions that pay fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing wages.

Many peo­ple — includ­ing those of col­or and youth and young adults who are dis­con­nect­ed from work and school — expe­ri­ence obsta­cles when seek­ing jobs or career advance­ment, accord­ing to the reports, which were pro­duced by the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce Foun­da­tion. These bar­ri­ers include inad­e­quate edu­ca­tion­al and career guid­ance and advis­ing and hir­ing prac­tices that dis­qual­i­fy many peo­ple lack­ing a four-year col­lege degree.

Build­ing Work­force Connections

The first pub­li­ca­tion, a resource guide for Cham­bers of Com­merce seek­ing to imple­ment a strat­e­gy for devel­op­ing tal­ent, offers rec­om­men­da­tions for fos­ter­ing clos­er work­ing rela­tion­ships between employ­ers and orga­ni­za­tions serv­ing peo­ple of col­or and oth­er com­mu­ni­ties that have his­tor­i­cal­ly faced obsta­cles enter­ing the workforce.

For orga­ni­za­tions look­ing to build part­ner­ships with employ­ers, the pub­li­ca­tion recommends:

  • Gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion about how employ­ers acquire tal­ent. Find out how employ­ers find qual­i­fied can­di­dates, includ­ing how they try to recruit peo­ple of col­or and those from oth­er diverse back­grounds. For exam­ple, employ­ers often launch ini­tia­tives with local or region­al work­force agen­cies and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions to help fill open jobs. Such ini­tia­tives might pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to part­ner with already-estab­lished efforts.
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing and engag­ing the right peo­ple with­in busi­ness­es. When reach­ing out to indi­vid­ual employ­ers, deter­mine who has deci­sion-mak­ing pow­er over recruit­ing and could pos­si­bly lead an effort to diver­si­fy hir­ing prac­tices, and whether that per­son can get buy-in from senior leadership.
  • Col­lect­ing data. Gath­er infor­ma­tion on local employ­ers’ needs, includ­ing key posi­tions to be filled and resources that would help to bet­ter serve pop­u­la­tions often exclud­ed from the labor market.
  • Gaug­ing whether spe­cif­ic employ­ers are good fits for part­ner­ships. When in dis­cus­sions with employ­ers, ask about their expe­ri­ences, philoso­phies and goals regard­ing diver­si­ty, equi­ty and inclu­sion to deter­mine if they align with local orga­ni­za­tions that serve untapped communities.
  • Explor­ing part­ner­ships with employ­er asso­ci­a­tions. Indus­try asso­ci­a­tions, local Cham­bers of Com­merce and oth­er employ­er groups can be allies in lead­ing and orga­niz­ing larg­er efforts to expand opportunities.

The report also calls on employ­ers to research local orga­ni­za­tions that serve com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and oth­er pop­u­la­tions that have his­tor­i­cal­ly faced bar­ri­ers to enter­ing the work­force. When launch­ing efforts to recruit and hire more peo­ple from these pop­u­la­tions, employ­ers should ensure they have buy-in from across their com­pa­nies and des­ig­nate peo­ple to lead initiatives.

Using Tech­nol­o­gy to Cre­ate Inclu­sive Career Pathways

The sec­ond pub­li­ca­tion, Build­ing a More Inclu­sive Tal­ent Mar­ket­place, breaks down how var­i­ous work­force stake­hold­ers can use resources and tech­nol­o­gy — includ­ing Cham­ber tools, such as those cre­at­ed for its T3 Inno­va­tion Net­work and Job Data Exchange — to help unem­ployed and under-employed peo­ple more eas­i­ly find job oppor­tu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­cate their expe­ri­ences and qual­i­fi­ca­tions to employers.

For sys­tems to effec­tive­ly cre­ate new pipelines for tal­ent, employ­ers must adopt hir­ing prac­tices that empha­size and iden­ti­fy key skills rather than spe­cif­ic cre­den­tials, such as a col­lege degree, accord­ing to the report. Greater data shar­ing and tech­nol­o­gy align­ment would also need to be estab­lished between employ­ers, edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions, work­force groups and orga­ni­za­tions that serve local communities.

Too many peo­ple, includ­ing youth and young adults of col­or, face bar­ri­ers to gain­ing employ­ment and start­ing careers, and the eco­nom­ic tur­moil the coun­try is expe­ri­enc­ing is only mak­ing mat­ters worse,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. We hope employ­ers rec­og­nize that young peo­ple are a huge source of untapped tal­ent and these resources will assist them in remov­ing bar­ri­ers to diver­si­fy­ing their tal­ent pipeline through improved col­lab­o­ra­tion with com­mu­ni­ty partners.”

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