Bridging the Opportunity Divide

The Program Giving Workers Without College Degrees a Leg Up

November 5, 2014
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The Program Giving Workers Without College Degrees a Leg Up
LearnUp trains entry-level workers with skills tailored to specific jobs. Facebook/LearnUp
Having the right skills can triple your chances of hearing "you're hired!"

For Americans that have completed higher education, figuring out which skills to acquire is less of a concern when it comes to applying for a job. But for workers without a college degree, the roadmap to getting hired is a bit trickier.

That’s a narrative underscoring the growing skills gap across the country, where an estimated 4.8 million jobs were not filled in August while 9.6 million Americans remained unemployed, according to BloombergAs it becomes more apparent that higher education is not the only answer to unemployment — after all, 73 percent of U.S. jobs do not require a college degree — more companies are stepping up to help Americans find the necessary skills for these available jobs.

LearnUp, a skills training platform focused on entry-level positions in retail, goes as far as to pair potential hires with openings at companies including Gap Inc., AT&T, Office Depot and Staples. The two-year-old company provides training programs tailored to each job, helping applicants learn the specific skills needed to land a position.

“The average person has 15 to 16 jobs in their lifetime. You need something that keeps your skills relevant,” says co-founder Alexis Ringwald. “Our vision is to have training available for every job.”

Ringwald, who formerly launched and sold a software startup, frequented unemployment lines before starting LearnUp to get a better sense of the hardships of finding a job. The entrepreneur and co-founder Kenny Ma then launched the platform in 2012 in the San Francisco Bay area and has since expanded job postings across the country.

Since its inception, LearnUp discovered that spending one to two hours of training in one of its modules triples a worker’s chance of landing a position, Fast Company reports.

“Having a series of realistic situations is the most effective way to teach job skills,” Ringwald says.

While not every applicant receives a job offer at the end of the process, the platform does manage to actually bridge the unskilled unemployed with companies seeking out new hires. And for many, that’s time worth spending.

MORE: Teaching Low-Income Youth These Skills May Just Solve the Tech Job Hiring Gap

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