Call it the “great reassessment of work
,” the “great resignation
,” or the “big churn
.” Whatever the case, there’s massive upheaval in today’s job market and growing evidence that millions of Americans are rethinking what they want from work. There’s a shift underway
—and whether it ends up being seismic or something smaller, it has major implications for the way we educate and prepare people for careers.
“I still feel like we’re sewing the parachute as we fall, because the change is just really coming that rapidly right now,” Tamera Maresh-Carver
, managing director of global learning and development at FedEx, said at a recent event.
To understand more about how this shift in work and education is playing out on the ground, we dug into survey data and talked to people—counselors, leaders at staffing agencies and nonprofits, and students themselves—who are driving the change day to day. They gave us a clearer picture of the uncertainty of this moment and the real challenges around filling high-need roles, putting diversity and equity goals into action, and ensuring students find not just jobs but meaningful careers.
The following is just a taste of what we heard. You can find more developed snapshots from those data and conversations in the full story over at Work Shift
—Employers are getting creative about how they recruit workers for hard-to-fill roles—rolling out more options to earn and learn at the same time. At Kelly Education, a staffing firm for schools and childcare centers, that means recruiting heavily from community colleges with early childhood education programs, and targeting students right out of high school who might be interested in careers in education.
“We’re working with guidance counselors to let students know, ‘Hey, if you’re interested in education, this is a path you can take right out of high school and go from there,’”
said Minny Kouanechao, director of early childhood education at Kelly Education
—But, even with increased interest in growing the talent pipeline, colleges say many businesses are still reluctant to put in the time to help people learn on the job. James Mable
, director of career and job placement services for the Houston Community College System, said the system has been able to significantly expand the range of co-ops, internships, and apprenticeships available to students in recent years. However, getting employers to understand what on-the-job learning truly entails remains a challenge.
“A lot of times employers are simply trying to fill a job,” Mable said. “But I think about a student at a community college—a lot of times this is their first instance of connecting with an employer in their field of interest. We want them to have a foundation, to have opportunities to experiment with their field, to get acclimated to what’s expected.”
—When companies step up to try to hire lower-income young people without college degrees, making the connection to a workforce training provider can be a challenge. Michelle Sims
, CEO of Year Up Professional Resources (YUPRO
), a public benefit corporation and unusually structured staffing firm, said YUPRO is set to double in size this year with projected triple-digit growth in job placements. And Sims is looking for nonprofit training partners (contact her here
“We need to deepen and widen our diversity talent pool with mission-aligned talent providers to expand opportunities for traditionally underrepresented talent,” said Sims.
—Diversity, equity, and inclusion are getting tons of attention when it comes to training and recruiting in corporate America, but those efforts face challenges when they hit the ground on campuses. Lynette Correa-Velez
, assistant director of career development at Northeastern Illinois University, says many of the employers she talks with struggle to find recruiters and presenters from diverse backgrounds—the kind of representation that lets students know they mean what they say around DEI.
Correa-Velez says that without seeing leaders from less advantaged backgrounds, it’s often hard for the university’s students—who are 60 percent first-generation college-goers and 53 percent Pell eligible—to see themselves in professional roles.
“Unfortunately, the workplace has shamed people that don’t have middle-class or upper-middle-class background and accents. So a lot of our students are ashamed that they don’t talk the ‘right’ way or look the ‘right’ way. And a lot of my coaching is around dealing with that shame,” Correa-Velez said.