Through the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling competition, teams will collaborate with workforce boards and XPERT advisors to advance new training technologies that lead to jobs paying a living wage and offering opportunities for career growth. Over the next six weeks, we’ll introduce you to the people behind each of the six selected pilot workforce boards through XPRIZE’s Meet the Cities blog series.
Ambition is inherent to the design and outcomes of XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling. From education to careers, the competition is focused on redesigning the entire work process — reducing the time it takes to train for and land higher-wage jobs by 50 percent. Time matters for a jobseeker who is thinking about how they will pay next month’s rent.
In order to reimagine the way workers attain new skills, we first need to fundamentally change the way that we train America. Faced with a widening skills gap, deteriorating job quality, and stagnant wages, the most effective workforce solutions will need to address the systemic barriers to greater learning, mobility, and progress. These new solutions will need to account for the complex, lived realities of workers.
To do that, we must ensure their perspectives and voices are meaningfully integrated into the design, testing, and outcome of this new approach to workforce training.
An ambitious effort to transform the American workforce system
As the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling competition enters its next phase of solution development, a coalition of partners led by New Profit, as part of its Future of Work Grand Challenge initiative, have come together to create a regional strategy of partnerships with workforce development boards and job centers. These boards are part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s public workforce system and are key to supporting the economic expansion and talent development of local communities. In many cases, these organizations are the first stop for job seekers to learn more about training and employment opportunities.
Kicking off this year, six of these future-focused workforce boards — selected from the hundreds of workforce boards nationwide for their records of innovation and effectiveness — will begin piloting XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Qualified Team solutions.
Led by partners New Profit and JFF, the selected workforce boards will receive tailored support and funding to test the innovations coming out of XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, to connect more than 5,000 COVID-impacted workers with new skills and employment opportunities. The data gained from piloting new technology will help regional teams refine solutions in real-time, create shorter feedback loops, and better align new approaches to employment services with workforce boards across the country.
This work could not be more urgent; as millions of Americans are filing for unemployment due to economic and public health crises, the workforce development boards and job centers we’re partnering with are experiencing historic volumes of requests for assistance from jobseekers. In the face of this widespread demand for support, the workforce system has the opportunity to radically reinvent workers’ training and career navigation experiences by putting powerful new tools and platforms to use.
A community-led approach to equity
While K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions play critical roles in preparing the next generation of workers for success, future-focused workforce boards and job centers have found innovative ways to respond to the new realities of today’s economy, helping meet the diverse needs of workers. Each board collaborates with local employers, educators, policymakers, and community leaders to foster economic development and high-growth job opportunities.
By taking this community-led approach, boards have the potential to ensure equity is central to our future of work decision-making process. This begins by centering the voices and input of our most impacted communities — in this case, workers with lived experience in underinvested regions.
As COVID-19 upends the labor market, this disruption has not been felt equally. Job losses have overwhelmingly affected diverse workers experiencing low wages. At every stage of the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling process – including this workforce board piloting phase – the competition is engaging frontline workers from racially, ethnically, experientially, and geographically diverse backgrounds in the prize as co-designers, advisors, and judges through the XPERT Worker Advisory Board. This process helps ensure that solutions align with workers’ day-to-day realities, from having children at home to caring for aging parents.
Many of the XPERT advisors have benefited from workforce boards themselves. As XPERT member Cedric Williams, an Engineering Tech at Proterra Inc, shares: “The American public needs to know and understand that the workforce boards are a necessity to America’s economic growth. Workforce boards provide the resources for any individual to obtain a meaningful occupation. These organizations provide the tools and training to give you the opportunity to interview, obtain, advance and sustain in today’s workforce.”
Next up: How XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling tech is making a big impact in Dallas, TX.