Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the global shift towards a more digital economy, today’s employees have been through a lot. Both events have brought about unprecedented changes in today’s labor market, including the loss of millions of jobs. According to CNBC, as of December 2020, there were still 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic began.
However, among the millions of people who lost their jobs last year, there are not enough workers qualified to work in STEM industries. And the current supply of skilled employees can’t meet the demand.
Microsoft predicts that there will be 149 million new tech jobs by 2025, including jobs in software and cybersecurity. Mckinsey, meanwhile, forecasts that more than 100 million people worldwide will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in a post-COVID-19 scenario.
One solution to bridge this gap is to reskill and upskill existing employees and the unemployed. To help both employers and workers, General Assembly has developed meaningful upskilling and reskilling programs that help communities get their people back to work.
General Assembly is making digital skills more accessible with expert-led training in coding, data, design, and digital marketing that come in 3 learning formats.Browse General Assembly’s programs here.
The General Assembly Community Reskilling Program
So, what is community reskilling and why is it important?
In brief, community reskilling is when communities and businesses work with training grounds like General Assembly to get their people back to work by equipping them with the relevant digital skills needed to fill in-demand tech roles. These programs create skilled workers within the community and often build much-needed local talent pipelines.
“Community reskilling has been a goal of General Assembly for quite a long time. We’ve been on the cutting edge of this Business-to-Government (B2G) world where we’re working with local government and local institutions in the non-profit space to bring education to communities,” said Ian Stirgwolt, Client Success Manager at General Assembly.
General Assembly has long partnered with businesses to reskill workers into high-impact digital roles. For example, General Assembly partnered with Disney to help them diversify their workforce.
“One of the first times we did partner reskilling was with Disney, where we took some of their parks employees and helped feed them into a Software Engineering Immersive. The program was largely focused on reskilling women into technical roles, which was really cool,” Ian shared.
Louisville Reskilling Project
General Assembly launched the first community reskilling initiative in 2019 in Louisville, KY, with Interapt and helped them expand their curriculum and improve apprenticeship opportunities. The ongoing Louisville Reskilling Project was created by Humana, who was already working with General Assembly to upskill and reskill their employees.
“They came to us as COVID-19 was settling in, and we were seeing a lot of job loss. They informed us that they wanted to give back to their community. The community had given so much to them, and they wanted to help build a local pipeline in Louisville where Humana is centered,” Ian said.
A little over 2,000 individuals have gone through the Louisville project. In this initiative, General Assembly offers several programs. “We have three main umbrella programs. We have our short-term classes and workshops, which people can take for half a day or a few hours. These help them upskill in a very specific area,” Ian explained.
“We also have people come to our online, mentor-led, [and] fully-online classes, [which are] similar to a massive open online course, or MOOC, but led by a mentor who helps them develop a project. The third umbrella program [comprise] part-time Immersive classes.”
“These are hardcore skilling classes where you’re taking either a 60-hour course or a 180-hour course,” Ian continued. These Immersive classes prepare participants to get to a position where they can utilize their new skills in a new job.
The reskilling programs reach people from all walks of life and at different points in their professional lives, giving them much-needed skills to find more fulfilling jobs or improve at their current positions.
Some individuals who have participated in these programs are in their early 20s and did not have the opportunity to attend college, although they demonstrate a deep interest in technology. There are also participants in their 50s who come to the program because their current non-tech job now requires digital skills, such as basic data analytics.
General Assembly and their community partners make the programs accessible to as many people as possible.
More important than the number of participants who go through community reskilling programs is the practical and lasting impact the programs have on their lives. “We want to walk the participants through the necessary steps, giving them six months to a year after the program to figure out the place where they want to be.”
“This is so we can have very successful placements, rather than just getting people in as quickly as possible. The programs are really about building the participants towards a place where they can have sustainable work, as opposed to this quick turn-and-churn deal that we often see in education,” Ian explained.
Sacramento Community Upskilling Project
Another community reskilling program is the Sacramento Community Upskilling Project. This came about through the efforts of the non-profits Greater Sacramento Council and the Greater Sacramento Urban League. Their goal was to build more data literacy and more digital literacy within Sacramento, and they partnered with General Assembly to bring these skills to the community.
The progress of this program is evident even after just a year of being operational. “The Sacramento project was specifically made as a pilot, so we are currently working on the second year of the project and looking at 500 people going through the program. It started at 40 individuals taking two different tracks within our programming,” Ian said.
“What we’ve seen so far has been astounding. Out of those 40 participants we started with, we currently have 35 of them placed with jobs that have increased their living wage, and it’s had a positive impact on the individuals who have been able to go through it. This is why we’re really excited about the potential of putting 500 individuals through this and scaling it by 10 times,” Ian further shared.
“With both Sacramento and Louisville, we subsidize the full costs of students. In addition to that, they are also eligible for stipends to supplement income if they can keep up with their classes and be consistent with homework. This had positive effects in both Louisville and Sacramento,” Ian said.
“What I’ve seen is that the programs have been very helpful for people to get into the mindset of learning. That’s one of the big goals of our Louisville program: how we can get people to think a little bit more about, ‘I might need to go back and reskill myself because the job that I had is not going to carry me through in the long-term sense,” Ian also shared.
The Future of Community Programs
General Assembly remains committed to helping communities get back to work and is continuously looking for global partners to prepare their people for the future of work. Partners can be from either government entities or businesses, but the goal is always the same: to help uplift and educate the community.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more of these programs based on the interest we’re getting from communities all over the place. We’re going to see a lot more partnerships with local governments. We’ve been able to show that we can partner with local organizations to make this deeply impactful, not just about numbers but about the stories and the outcomes of these programs.”
“The GA model plus the ability to work with local governments and partners to utilize funds they have available and also understand and rely on their network, is going to be where we see success in the future,” Ian said.
In 2020 and 2021 alone, General Assembly’s COVID-19 social impact initiatives have served over 5,200 US students. It has also fully subsidized 33,000 training hours for pandemic impacted communities.
General Assembly’s program makes reskilling more accessible and helps people become future-ready in an ever-evolving world. To learn more about GA’s community reskilling programs, click here.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.