Another Bank Is Giving Big to Boost Worker Skills. Here's Why.

If your boss told you to tweet something for her, would you know what to do? How about if she asked you to help with the company's website or database management?

If you don't have these skills at the ready, you're not alone. Now, Capital One, along with the Obama administration, is launching a new effort to get more workers prepared for the challenges of a digitally-intensive labor market.

While many job sectors took a big hit in the Great Recession, one area where growth consistently rises is jobs requiring digital skills. So you can see why Capital One is homing in on this area as it pushes into workforce developmentone of several big banks now focusing big philanthropic dollars on helping bridge the divide between employer needs and the current population of job-seekers.

As we've explained often, banks are attuned to workforce development issues for obvious reasons. These are huge employers with a strong demand for entry-level workers who can succeed in a modern office place where technology and information systems are all-important. But because many banks are looking for these workers in urban environments with high poverty rates and weak school systems, they know only too well that many young Americans are ill-equipped for today's office jobs. 

Philanthropic efforts to bolster work skills are thus a win-win for banks. They're doing their part to increase economic opportunity for disadvantaged groups, while also helping meet their own human capital needs. 

With $150 million in new funding over 5 years, Capital One will act in tandem with Obama's TechHire initiative, which highlights the need to invest in training and development of today's workforce with skills such as database management, web development and design, search engine optimization, and digital marketing. According to Burning Glass, an organization that recently studied digital media employment for Capital One, these digitally-intensive middle skill jobs make up 39 percent of employment in the U.S. job market. That number sounds high, but hardly beyond imagination in our information economy. 

The Obama administration will also invest $100 million in funding to help close the workforce's digital skills gap. Obama's TechHire initiative is collaborating with state and local governments and the private sector to craft solutions and already has 21 communities engaged.

The White House recently reported that there are over half a million job openings in fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity. Many of these jobs did not exist a decade ago, and the schools and training facilities to prepare workers for these demanding job markets are lagging behind.

Capital One will partner with organizations like General Assembly and Grovo to provide platforms that make technology education more accessible and practical for American workers. These programs have the capacity to rapidly train workers for better paying jobs in just a few months, reducing the need for expensive and lengthy four-year college education.