In discussing America's employment crisis, the “skills gap” refers to industries like healthcare and advanced manufacturing, where there aren't enough trained workers to fill the available jobs. This gap accounts for about one-third of America's unemployment rate. And by 2020, some sort of post-secondary educational training will be mandatory for nearly two-thirds of the projected 48 million job openings.
As those startling figures loom, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation is doing its part to help close this gap before it widens even further. On December 12, 2013, JP Morgan Chase launched an unprecedented $250 million workforce readiness grant to be paid out over the next five years. This workforce readiness and demand-driven training initiative is called “New Skills at Work,” and it's supposed to accelerate economic growth through high-impact training programs. (Read JPMorgan Chase Foundation: New York Grants).
Although information about specific grants and partnerships is forthcoming, the new initiative will focus on the following major urban areas:
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
“Addressing the skills gap can be one of our most powerful tools for reducing unemployment and creating more broadly shared prosperity,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase in a press release. “JPMorgan is using its best assets, including industry intelligence and strong partnerships in local communities, to provide a platform for employers, educators and workforce participants to help people gain the skills they need to succeed.”
One of the biggest challenges for JPMorgan Chase's new workforce initiative is getting adequate data about employer demand. Therefore, part of the grant money will be going toward research and reporting systems to inform both the supply and the demand side of the gap.
The focus of this grant money shifts away from unemployed residents and toward nonprofit organizations built to help these people acquire new job skills and find local employment. As these grant dollars start flowing in 2014, we'll be keeping our eyes out for more announcements and updates from JP Morgan Chase.