Drew Starbird, Ph.D.
A series of company logos connected to each other with lines
When we talk about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, we usually mean those innovative firms that are turning new technology into intriguing consumer products and applications: Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, and Netflix. The entrepreneurial mindset is alive and well in other sectors too. As a part of my work with My Own Business Institute (MOBI), I have come across innovative programs devoted to workforce development. While not as captivating as autonomous cars and drone deliveries, training people for the next generation of good jobs is an inspiring goal.
Here are a few workforce ventures with high ambitions:
PeopleShores is a for-profit social enterprise that trains people in economically disadvantaged communities for careers in technology firms. It’s modeled on the successful RuralShores program in India that recruits and trains rural youth for careers in business process outsourcing (BPO). PeopleShores just opened a facility in North San Jose and recruited its first set of candidates. After two months of training, successful candidates will take full-time, full-benefit jobs with PeopleShores. Partners in the endeavor include the Work2Future Foundation, Expandability/GoodWill, SV Children’s Fund/TeenForce, and Sai Ashreya.
SVAcademy is the "MIT of Sales," a new economy apprenticeship program focused on providing people of color, women, minorities, and Middle America with access to business development and sales careers at top technology companies, including Salesforce, Box, and dozens of high-growth, VC-backed SaaS startups. Free to attend through employer-sponsored tuition, SVAcademy’s goal is to equip those groups typically underrepresented in the tech industry with valuable skill sets to break through the insular network that typifies Silicon Valley hiring. Watch this video to see how SVAcademy is already changing the lives of recent graduates and improving the bottom line for its employer partners.
Recognizing that many high school graduates are ill equipped to enter the workforce, CareerWise Colorado is developing collaborate apprenticeship solutions based on the Swiss system. Acting as a facilitator, CareerWise Colorado guides businesses, works with educators, supports students, and oversees the process of creating and staffing apprenticeships. Apprenticeships aren’t just for manufacturing firms. CareerWise is working with IT firms, financial services, and business operations companies. Their ambitious goal is to create 20,000 youth apprentices over the next decade.
You might think that California Community Colleges aren’t a place to find innovative programs—but Doing What Matters will change your mind. In response to the tremendous skills gap in California, the California Community Colleges have launched a program designed to train students for careers in priority and emergent sectors around the state. Employers from these sectors work directly with local community colleges to develop a curriculum that trains students for high-paying jobs that are now going unfilled. The potential is truly amazing: There are more than 2.4 million students and 112 campuses in the system—the largest post-secondary education system in the world.
MOBI +CET is an initiative of Santa Clara’s successful My Own Business Institute. In partnership with the Center for Employment Training (CET), MOBI is offering a course to CET students on how to start a business. The CET has multiple programs that train people for jobs in everything from construction and welding to culinary arts and childcare. Many CET students are interested in taking their new skills and creating small businesses on their own or with classmates when they graduate. Volunteer instructors with experience as entrepreneurs will teach the course, which is based on MOBI’s popular online curriculum.
These programs have the potential to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people across the U.S. and in our community. It is inspiring to see the entrepreneurial mindset developing solutions to the skills gap—and developing opportunities for our less fortunate neighbors.