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To Fill Millions of Open Jobs, Many Workers Need More Than Skills

  • Publication: 
    The New York Times
    June 14, 2021

    Rachelle Katchenago of Menasha, Wis., lost her job as a call-center contract worker last year after the pandemic lockdowns took hold. No one was hiring.

    Ms. Katchenago, 37, eventually heard of career courses, paid for by Microsoft as part of a Covid relief program. She plunged in, learning online customer service and sales skills, hoping to improve her employment prospects.

    But it turned out that the technical skills, in the free classes from Microsoft’s LinkedIn job listing and training service, were not the only thing she picked up. The Wisconsin group helping her with the courses also provided career guidance, moral support, tips on résumé writing and interviews, and job contacts.

    Research has shown the effectiveness of programs that are local, personal and focused on addressing the last mile of the labor market. President Biden has endorsed the model. The administration’s jobs plan calls for billions in work force training including funds for “wraparound services” like counseling.

    “It’s about seeing connections and building confidence,” said Beth Cobert, chief operating officer of the Markle Foundation, which supports programs to broaden job opportunities. “And you need people to do this, to help close that gap.”

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