Close the Divide Between Education and Work

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Close the Divide Between Education and Work

By Michael Haberman, Northeast Region Executive for JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy

Before joining JPMorgan Chase, I spent 7 years running a nonprofit that developed models of collaboration between businesses and public schools. The basic belief that drove – and still drives – the work was that both students and businesses would benefit through these types of partnerships. It’s good for economic growth and for creating pathways to economic opportunity for more people.

One of the major strands of the work was college and career readiness. That said, like most education organizations that talk about career readiness, our focus was on making sure students were ready for post-college careers. At the time, the thinking was that going directly into the workforce from high school was an option of last resort.

Fast forward to my current role. Through JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work  initiative, a $250 million commitment to addressing the skills gap, I was exposed to a whole new way of thinking about career readiness. While attending a four-year college immediately after graduating from high school is a good choice for many students, there are also opportunities for young people to get good jobs with less than a four-year degree. In fact, there are millions of jobs that pay good salaries, offer robust career pathways and do not require a bachelor’s degree to start - they are available to young people who earn a two-year degree, an apprenticeship, an industry recognized credential, or a certificate obtained through a shorter-term training program.

There is a way to provide a robust and valuable educational program that enables young people to enter the labor market with a meaningful credential today and pursue further education either concurrently or in the future. Through strong Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, students receive education and training aligned with specific career pathways that match the needs of employers. After completing a strong CTE program, students –have the skills they need to move directly into good jobs such as a robotics technician, coder or aviation mechanic.

As our economy changes so must our education programs. That’s why I’m so excited to see my two professional worlds collide under JPMorgan Chase’s new initiative announced this week. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, 5-year initiative designed to increase the number of young people who obtain the necessary education and skills to compete for high-skill jobs. We are confronting this challenge from two angles:

First, JPMorgan Chase and our partners, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, have launched a competitive grant program to incentivize U.S. states to grow and strengthen their CTE systems. The competition will encourage states to implement demand-driven CTE programs that align with the needs of area employers.

Second, JPMorgan Chase will invest in the development of career-focused education programs in cities and school districts around the world. We will support the development of new and effective models that are aligned with the needs of emerging industries.

Economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for millions of young people because too few of them receive the skills training or education they need to secure high-wage, high-demand jobs. I’m proud to be part of a philanthropic community that is striving to address this challenge, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to continue to seek out and develop innovative models that help people achieve economic mobility. This is good for our youth, our businesses and our society.

Michael Haberman is the Northeast Region Executive for JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy.  Previously, he was the President of the education non-profit PENCIL.

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