By: David Williams, CEO – Genesys Works
It seems every time I read or listen to the news, I see another story about our country’s low unemployment and strong economy. But I also hear people talking about the widening skills gap. With more jobs than there are workers, policymakers and companies are concerned that our current workforce isn’t matching the supply with the demand. Take JPMorgan Chase’s recent investment of $350 million in its New Skills at Work initiative, or the newly formed White House “American Workforce Policy Advisory Board,” which includes 25 c-suite executives, higher education officials and policymakers.
For years, I worked with nonprofits addressing the symptoms of poverty. As I’ve seen in my first few months at Genesys Works, cross-sector partnerships are really effective at creating economic opportunity while supporting businesses’ bottom lines. These collaborations – with students, schools and businesses – are helping to chip away at the cycle of poverty altogether.
At Genesys Works, we work with over 160 schools to identify students who are a good fit for our program. Then, we provide them with training and connect them with yearlong, paid internships with one of our 219 corporate partners – ranging from AT&T to Salesforce.
For our students, we offer opportunities to gain exposure and experience in a professional work place. Since our founding, our young professionals have earned more than $7 million at their internships. This is money they can use to pay for college or trade school, or to support their families.
For our corporate partners, we offer a business solution – a pool of intelligent, dynamic talent. Our students are doing real work to support their companies’ operations and growth. Throughout the year, they become valued members of their teams.
For our school partners, we work closely with teachers and administrators to make sure our students succeed. We’re helping our students thrive in their internships while also helping them figure out what’s next. And we’ve got a strong track record: 100 percent of our students graduated from high school and 94 percent enrolled in college.
As a country, we’ve got to do better at matching our workforce’s supply with the demand. Improving collaboration among the business, nonprofit and education sectors is a scalable, effective way to do this so we can break the cycle of poverty.
About Genesys Works
Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. Our program consists of 8 weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college. Our goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process. Since its founding in 2002, Genesys Works has grown to serve nearly 4,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region. To learn more, visit genesysworks.org.