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Greater Washington Partnership Blueprint Report

PILLAR 01
Education Affordable, Accessible, High-Quality Education & Skill-Building

High-quality education (including credentialingC) is the foundation of a productive workforce and a resilient community. It is the primary path for attaining family-sustaining wagesD that provide housing, healthcare, and wealth-building opportunities. While there is a need to shift away from reliance on degrees as proxies for candidate skills (see Workforce Pillar) there is a strong correlation between educational attainment and training opportunities and access to high-quality jobs.

Within each of the Capital Region’s metro areas, there are significant racial disparities in educational access, quality, achievement, and retention. This divide creates an opportunity gap for underserved community members and limits the region’s talent pool for knowledge-based, high-growth industries.

A
high-quality education should provide students with a safe and
healthy environment; support their social,
emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development; and
ensure they are challenged academically and prepared for success in
further study, future
employment and ultimately, participation in a global
society10

These inequalities
permeate every level of students’ educational journeys, with Black
and Hispanic children often having lower early childhood education
(ECE)E enrollment rates, gaps in K-12 reading and math proficiencies,
lower high school graduation rates, gaps in bachelor’s degree
attainment, and lower matriculation into high-quality jobs like those
in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.


92 88 96 90 97 94 80 94 85 69 68 72 +7% +11% +5% +7% Source: US Census Bureau

34 64 21 47 36 26 28 45 21 20 52 28 +114% +68% +78% +86% Source: US Census Bureau, IPEDS

The existing
education system exacerbates inequities among underserved groups and
hampers their ability to overcome intergenerational poverty.11
Children not enrolled in ECE are less prepared for kindergarten, and
when their teachers are under-resourced (more common in low-income,
Black, and Hispanic communities), that gap can widen over time.12
Students who are not proficient in reading by third or fourth grade
are four times more likely to drop out of high school.13 Young people
without a high school diploma are less likely to be employed and earn
a living wage, and more likely to live in poverty and suffer from
poor health.14

The problem is not just significant for individual families, but for the regional
economy more broadly. When the local workforce lacks the skills and
experience needed for the region’s high-growth industries,
employers seek talent elsewhere.15

Through partnerships
between educators and other employers, businesses can support access
to high-quality education, expand industry-aligned coursework, and
provide opportunities for early career exposure and work-based
learning.

Continuous
engagement with educators, parents, and community members to
understand their ongoing needs and ideas will strengthen business
investments in education-to-workforce pathways and ultimately support
better student outcomes and a stronger economy.

Solutions
Education
Affordable, Accessible, High-Quality Education & Skill-Building
  • Improve access to quality education
    Solution 1 Improve access to quality education Lower barriers to equitable educational outcomes and provide necessary resources to students and schools

    The benefits of ECE—improved primary and secondary academic performance, accelerated cognitive and social development, and better health outcomes, to name a few—are well-documented, but it remains out of reach for many Capital Region children.16 The burden of paying for ECE falls primarily on families, and the true cost is higher than many families can afford. Nationwide, only 11% of families with young children have access to employer-provided childcare; the rate is even lower for low-income workers.17 There are economic costs to this, both for individual families and the larger community. Forty-four percent of American families with children under the age of 18 reported facing financial challenges; that figure is higher for Black (63%) and Hispanic (59%) families.18 At the same time, businesses in Maryland alone lose roughly $2.4B when parents are absent because of child care crises.19 While many factors contribute to these challenges, subsidizing or providing ECE helps better prepare children for kindergarten and can strengthen the local economy as more parents are able to enter and stay in the workforce. Providing access to ECE can also be a differentiator for employers as they seek to attract and retain talent.

    Recommendations

    Recommendation 1 Early Childhood Education (ECE) AccessF Expand access to ECE in the region by collaborating with local providers and subsidizing tuition for children of employees

    The private sector
    has an opportunity to support the development of a well-educated
    population, skilled future workforce, and empowered parents who can
    participate in the local economy, by investing in improving access to
    high-quality ECE through post-secondary education. By donating
    resources such as technology and professional expertise, businesses
    can be creative in how they help learners build the skills needed to
    be successful in the workplace. The private sector can partner with
    education providers, scholarship programs, and others to increase
    affordability across key areas for impact. Together, these
    investments would be important steps toward creating clear,
    high-quality education pathways for all students and breaking down
    systemic barriers that have historically prevented equitable student
    success across the Capital Region.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Investments in high-quality ECE can generate up to seven times the
      impact per dollar invested due to higher earnings and lower costs
      associated with healthcare, criminal justice, and education20
      Students who attend high-quality ECE programs have reduced need for
      special education supports later in childhood, higher school
      achievement in early adolescence, and higher instances of wealth in
      early adulthood16

    • Private
      Sector:
      Employee performance is higher and absenteeism is lower
      among employees using on-site childcare21 Companies can claim a
      national tax credit of up to $150,000 per year on childcare expenses
      and referrals provided to employees17

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spot:
      The Hospital
      Corporation of America
      , based in Richmond, VA, purchases slots
      for employees’ children in an ECE center across the street from
      its major hospital

    • National
      Bright Spot:
      Patagonia
      has offered on-site child care since 1983. In the last five
      years, the company has seen 100% of new mothers return to work
      (compared with the national average of 80%), more women in
      managerial positions, and a stronger workplace culture. Patagonia
      estimates they recoup 91% of the program costs and have a return of
      investment of 115-125% when accounting for intangible benefits such
      as more women in management, greater employee loyalty, and a
      stronger workplace culture of trust22

    Implementation Considerations

    • To support the
      local economy, employers should partner with existing local ECE
      providers and community leaders to determine the best approach for
      subsidizing employee childcare

    • Where
      appropriate, companies should consider providing on-site childcare
      outside of traditional 9-5 working hours to account for longer work
      schedules and overnight shifts

    Recommendation 2 Continuing Education Benefits for Employees Support continuing education and upskilling opportunities for employees

    Tuition support helps employees deepen their industry knowledge
    and skills, enables them to advance along career pathways, and makes
    employers more competitive to jobseekers. It can also narrow the
    degree gap between racial and ethnic groups. More than 74% of Black
    and 80% of Hispanic Americans over the age of 25 do not have a
    four-year degree (compared with 64% of white and 43% of Asian
    Americans over 25);23 however, 87% and 81% of Black workers say
    completing a certificate or degree, respectively, will be important
    for their future success.24

    By offering tuition assistance and loan forgiveness, employers can
    reduce financial barriers and enable their employees to obtain higher
    education, and thus bring valuable knowledge and skills back to their
    company and help boost employees’ lifetime earnings. Offering
    educational benefits also helps employers differentiate themselves at
    a time when talent attraction and retention are high priorities.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      In a national Bright Horizons survey, 93% of respondents said
      employer-sponsored tuition assistance helped them develop the skills
      they needed to grow within their company; 85% said the program has
      made them a more effective employee, and 56% said they would not
      have pursued additional education without this support from their
      employer25

    • Private
      Sector:
      Sixty-five percent of U.S. workers believe employee
      education benefits promote racial and gender equality in the
      workplace26 Providing employee education benefits has been shown to
      increase retention rates by 5-12% among diverse employee groups27 On
      a nationwide Graduate! Network survey, employers reported that
      tuition assistance programs strongly impacted their ability to
      achieve organizational goals, including decreased turnover and
      increased customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and profit28

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spot:
      Lockheed Martin operates Invest In Me, a program
      that provides recent college hires with $150 a month, up to a
      maximum of $9,000, to pay down student loans or save for other
      financial goals

    • National
      Bright Spots:
      Aetna offers both a Student
      Loan

      Forgiveness Program
      and
      Tuition Assistance Program
      to part-and full-time employees Guild
      Education partners with employers to build strategic education
      and reskilling experiences for their employees by connecting them to
      a learning marketplace of the best universities and learning
      providers designed for working adults

    Implementation Considerations

    • To improve
      outcomes and retention in continuing education programs, employers
      can market relevant opportunities internally, provide flexible
      schedules to accommodate classes, and offer mentorship and learning
      cohort experiences to employees

    • Providing
      tuition support upfront is critical for low-income workers who may
      not be able to afford a loan or may not have the credit history to
      qualify for one

    • Employers can
      determine eligibility criteria for student loan forgiveness to
      ensure equitable distribution of resources

    Recommendation 3 Scholarships for Underserved Students Support college scholarship funds for underserved students to minimize financial barriers to higher education

    Earning a college degree can open doors to family-sustaining wages
    and other benefits, but systemic barriers prevent many Americans from
    obtaining one. The six-year bachelor’s degree graduation rate is
    69.6% for white students and 51.5% for Black and Hispanic students.29
    Moreover, the economic burden for low-income, underserved students is
    vast and goes beyond tuition. Financial pressure—either lack of
    funds or the need to maintain an income while in college—is a
    primary reason that students do not begin or complete a degree.30 And
    for those who do enter a degree program, the debt burden can be
    staggering. Black college graduates owe $7,400 more than their white
    peers upon graduation; by four years after graduation, Black
    graduates hold nearly $53,000 in student loan debt, roughly twice as
    much as their white peers.31 Contributing to scholarship funds is one
    step that Capital Region businesses can take to boost residents’
    long-term earnings, minimize student debt, and diversify the future
    workforce.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Borough of Manhattan Community College students who received
      scholarships were three times more likely to graduate than their
      peers who did not receive financial assistance; scholarships were
      also shown to improve retention rates by 15 percentage points over
      one-to-three-year periods32

    • Private
      Sector:
      By contributing to scholarship programs, companies can
      widen and diversify the future hiring pool

    Efforts in Progress

    • Partnership
      Bright Spot:
      The
      Capital CoLAB Digital Tech Credential

      Scholarship
      supports up to 2,000 learners from backgrounds
      historically underrepresented in tech in pursuit of digital tech
      education by 2025; university partners award up to $2,500 per
      scholarship to fund students as they take courses aligned to the
      digital tech skillsets that Capital Region employers have identified
      as most critical for their entry-level jobs

    • National Bright
      Spot:
      The Posse
      Foundation’s
      robust cohort experience for scholarship
      recipients includes pre-college training, frequent meetings with
      mentors and foundation staff, and support securing competitive
      internships and leadership-track jobs, enabling 90% of participating
      students to graduate

    Implementation Considerations

    • To reduce time
      and capital expenditures required to start and manage scholarship
      funds, businesses may consider contributing to one of the many
      established scholarship programs. Scholarships should ideally be
      unrestricted and cover costs outside of tuition, including books,
      transportation, lodging and other living expenses, opportunity cost
      of lost wages, childcare, certifications, and emergency funds to
      support retention

    • Businesses can
      deepen the impact of scholarship funding by combining it with a
      mentorship program for student recipients (see
      Employee-Student Mentoring recommendation
      )

    Recommendation 4 Resource Matchmaking to Meet Student & Educator Needs Collaborate to elevate educator and student needs and match them with long-term resources

    Schools and out-of-school organizations operate on lean budgets,
    and often lack funding for supplies or services such as operations
    strategy, asset management, financial planning, and volunteer
    support.33 Ninety-four percent of public-school teachers in the US
    spend hundreds of dollars (or more) of their own money on basic
    school supplies for their classrooms; many cite this as one reason
    they leave the profession.34

    Many education providers would benefit from operational, resource,
    and volunteer support that can be provided by the private sector,
    nonprofit community, and other organizations. For example, an
    intermediary that deeply understands educator and student needs can
    match a coalition of businesses with opportunities to provide support
    and manage the logistics of delivering requested resources and
    services to recipients. An effort like this could be augmented by an
    easy-to-navigate platform that highlights educator and student needs
    for businesses to meet.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Schools and education providers access critical services that would
      otherwise be prohibitively expensive, as well as key supplies that
      educators would otherwise pay for out of pocket or do without; these
      investments would likely bolster student outcomes and teacher
      retention35

    • Private
      Sector:
      Volunteering professional skills has been shown to
      increase employee engagement and retention, while also significantly
      enhancing the abilities workers need to be successful in their
      jobs36

    Efforts in Progress

    • National Bright Spot: Catchafire utilizes a data-driven platform to partner with corporations, foundations, and grant makers to match nonprofits with professionals or organizations who can help meet their needs

      US Digital Response connects technologist volunteers with
      government agencies and nonprofits to complete pro bono projects

    Implementation Considerations

    • It is important that organizations providing this support seek to understand the needs of schools, students, and McKinsey & Company’s community members before identifying potential solutions and offerings
    • A central intermediary (e.g., nonprofit, potentially funded by participating businesses) could create and manage a matchmaking initiative (supported by a technology platform), as well as support the logistics of volunteers working with schools
    • The matchmaking system should help ensure the equitable distribution of resources and volunteer hours across participating schools
    • There is an opportunity for businesses to help schools close the digital divide, which includes providing devices, technology support services, and training for educators and caregivers (see additional information in Digital Infrastructure)
    • Other examples of initiatives that could be supported by matchmaking are teacher externship programs, as well as capacity-building and business operations improvements for ECE providers
  • Enhance access to in-demand skills
    Solution 2 Enhance access to in-demand skills Identify in-demand job opportunities and provide relevant student training and preparation

    The pathway to a successful career can be difficult to navigate, especially for students who have been underserved throughout their education. The private sector has an important role to play in publicizing the most critical skills needed for high-quality jobs and ensuring that educators have the training and technology to help learners be more prepared for the workforce.

    Businesses can help students advance into high-quality jobs and careers by:

    • Coming to consensus around critical skills required for and pathways leading to open positions

    • Sharing expertise with training providers as they refresh curricula to reflect industry trends

    These initiatives create structures that help students enter fulfilling and family-sustaining careers, support employers in filling open positions, and make the hiring process more equitable.

    Recommendations

    Recommendation 1 Employer Demand Signaling Align on and promote recommended knowledge, skills, abilities, and credentials (KSACs) and partner with educators as they integrate them into curricula, work-based learning (WBL) opportunities, and career pathways

    Understanding
    occupations is critical both to learners who are making choices about
    their education and careers, and to educators who are continuously
    adapting academic programs.

    This is especially
    critical for rapidly evolving skillsets, such as cybersecurity,
    machine learning, and other digital tech fields. Left unaddressed,
    there is a risk that 60,000 tech and tech-adjacent positions will go
    unfilled annually in the Capital Region through 2025.37 Seventy-eight
    percent of hiring managers nationwide report worker skills gaps,38
    which could have an impact of trillions of dollars on the U.S.
    economy by 2028.39 Many factors impact these gaps, but a major
    disconnect is how employers communicate their hiring requirements for
    open positions.40 On the candidate side, individuals often struggle
    to communicate their competencies in a way that directly reflects the
    language in job descriptions, resulting in unemployment or
    underemployment.

    When employers proactively define and communicate the most
    critical KSACs for in-demand jobs in their organization, they can
    directly support educators working to align curricula and work-based
    learning opportunities to regional labor market needs. Employers may
    also consider showcasing sample career pathways to help develop,
    attract, and retain current and future talent.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Demand signaling will create more transparent and accessible career
      pathways, including enhanced opportunities for economic mobility for
      low-income and underserved youth41

    • Private
      Sector:
      As more students graduate with industry-aligned
      competencies, businesses have a broader talent pool from which to
      source, onboard, and retain a skilled and competitive workforce that
      can drive growth and innovation40

    Efforts in Progress

    • Partnership Bright Spot: Capital CoLAB’s Employer
      Signaling System
      combines labor market information with employer
      insights and educator feedback on an annual basis to develop and
      refresh the KSACs needed for entry-level IT roles in the Capital
      Region

    • Regional Bright Spots: The Business-Higher
      Education Forum
      connects higher education institutions with
      business talent demand to anticipate needed skills and improve
      pathways between higher education and workforceNorthern Virginia
      Community College (NOVA) is collaborating with Amazon Web Services’
      Educate Program to create a Cloud
      Computing
      specialization
      to address the high demand for these skills in
      the region

    Implementation Considerations

    • After
      clarifying the skillsets needed for in-demand jobs, employers should
      partner with an academic facilitator or intermediary organization to
      translate business needs into KSACs to support easier curriculum
      alignment

    • Employers and
      educators should establish a regular cadence to discuss emerging
      skillsets and reassess KSACs to keep pace with industry trends

    Recommendation 2 Training for In-Demand Jobs Identify clusters of in-demand job opportunities across regional employers and collaborate with nonprofits and education providers to develop and deliver job training programs for these roles

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, large numbers of Americans began
    leaving their jobs in a movement experts dubbed “the Great
    Resignation.” In 2021, roughly 4 million Americans quit their jobs
    each month, leaving approximately 11 million jobs consistently open
    throughout the year.42 Factors like automation and the general need
    for digital literacy exacerbate this trend, reinforcing the mismatch
    between open jobs and available qualified workers.43

    Employer collaboratives can complete an analysis of open jobs in a
    particular region and assess the availability of training to equip
    regional students to fill those roles. They can also connect
    employers with community colleges and training providers to develop
    upskilling or re-skilling programs, and help develop selection
    criteria for job-seekers. The private sector can also support
    training development or upgrades to existing curricula, fund training
    programs for open jobs so they are free to participants, and commit
    to hiring graduates of the training programs.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community: Potential to elevate members of the community who may have previously worked in low-wage jobs to high-quality career pathways
    • Private Sector: Employers would fill critical and high-volume open positions and have access to a more diverse workforce

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spot:
      VA Ready is
      a business-led partnership between regional employers and Virginia’s
      community colleges that rapidly reskills Virginians for in-demand
      jobs by offering credentials in high- growth industries through 6-
      to 12-week programs

    • National
      Bright Spot:
      Salesforce partnered with Deloitte to develop the
      Salesforce Pathfinder
      Program
      which seeks to equip the next generation of workers with
      the technical and business skills needed to succeed in jobs across
      the Salesforce ecosystem

    Implementation Considerations

    • Businesses may
      consider subsidizing education and training to grow the applicant
      pool for in-demand roles

    • Employers
      should also consider transferrable skills and enthusiasm for the
      program when evaluating candidates from new talent sources, as those
      qualities often inform the likelihood of success in the roles

  • Invest in talent development through work based learning (WBL) opportunities
    Solution 3 Invest in talent development through work based learning (WBL) opportunities Strengthen workforce readiness and the local talent pool through high-quality professional exposure and development opportunities for learners

    Many students do not know about the array of careers available in the Capital Region, or the professional connections and training needed to obtain a job in their desired field. This information is especially important to help students in underserved communities navigate academic and job pathways toward a family-sustaining career. Career awareness, exposure, engagement, and immersion—which CoLAB collectively refers to as work-based learning (WBL)—not only guide students toward high-quality jobs but also help employers access and invest in a more diverse workforce. CoLAB elaborates on this work-based learning continuum in its Work-Based Learning Strategy.

    Employers can invest in their future workforce through WBL by:

    Participating in career awareness events to showcase their organization, educate students about career opportunities and hiring requirements, and begin building relationships with potential future employees

    • Engaging a range of professionals and subject matter experts as mentors for students

    • Investing in internships and registered apprenticeships to provide students with hands-on professional experience, give students opportunities to earn and learn while achieving business needs, and deepen relationships with education and training providers

    These partnerships and programs create self-sustaining pipelines for future highly-skilled workers in the Capital

    Recommendations

    Recommendation 1 Early Career Exposure Develop and promote STEM career exploration opportunities for students starting in elementary school

    Without early exposure to a wide range of careers, it can be
    difficult for students to grasp the range of professional
    opportunities available, particularly for STEM careers. Nationally,
    STEM jobs have an annual mean wage of $100,900, compared with $55,260
    for non-STEM occupations.45 Investing in early exposure to STEM
    opportunities can help move more students to pursue family-
    sustaining careers. For example, STEM career interest at the
    beginning of high school is a key predictor of interest at the time
    of graduation when students look for jobs.46 Data also indicate that
    students with low science competence and awareness who do not express
    STEM-related aspirations by age 10 are unlikely to develop them by
    age 14.47

    Early exposure to family-sustaining careers can spark students’
    excitement as they understand how their coursework will prepare them
    for their future career of choice.48 Career awareness activities such
    as job fairs, mock interviews, and guest speakers are natural ways
    for employers to invest in talent development and provide students
    with insights into possible career paths.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Students who engage in career exploration activities are more likely
      to complete high school48 Students with high confidence in their
      ability to solve math problems and robust STEM
      career knowledge are more likely to choose a STEM career46

    • Private
      Sector:
      Businesses have the opportunity to shape the next
      generation of workers and proactively engage potential future
      employees

    Efforts in Progress

    • Partnership
      Bright Spot:
      Capital
      CoLAB’s
      Digital Tech College & Career Readiness Series
      highlights tech professionals and tips for high school students
      interested in pursuing STEM degrees after graduation

    • Regional
      Bright Spot:
      CodeVA in Virginia partners with Amazon’s
      CS

      Ready Program
      to strategically prepare schools, staff, and
      students for school-wide implementation of Computer Science
      programming

    Implementation Considerations

    • Businesses
      should work in partnership with school districts or intermediary
      organizations to ensure events are accessible to all students

    • The private
      sector should commit to long-term partnerships with education
      institutions, as sustained community engagements lead to better
      outcomes for students

    • Businesses
      should proactively seek to engage Black, Hispanic, and female
      students in career exposure initiatives, as those populations are
      historically underrepresented in STEM fields49

    Recommendation 2 Paid Work Experience for High School and College Students Partner with schools and work-based learning organizations to offer students paid, relevant work experience while they pursue their education

    Work experience is becoming increasingly important for high school
    students looking to boost their resumes before applying to college or
    seeking full-time employment.50 It is also important for college
    students, only 41% of whom report feeling extremely or very prepared
    for their future careers.51

    Internships and apprenticeshipsG can help students develop a
    professional network and prepare them for the workforce. However, the
    opportunity cost of unpaid internships remains a significant barrier
    for students who may not have the financial resources to work without
    a salary.52 Businesses in the Capital Region can offer meaningful
    paid work experiences to high school and college students as part of
    their education investments and workforce development strategies,
    thus building a talent pipeline of skilled future workers.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Young men who participated in the Urban Alliance High School
      Internship Program in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were 23% more
      likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their
      peers; these students also demonstrated stronger hard and soft
      skills a year after the completion of the internship compared to the
      control group53. College students with work-based learning
      experience are more likely to be employed within the first year of
      graduation54

    • Private
      Sector
      : Work-based learning helps students build skills that are
      relevant for a variety of careers and provides early identification
      of and training for potential future employees44 Apprenticeship
      programs generally lead to returns of $1.47 per dollar invested for
      the employer, and $28 per dollar in benefits for the general
      public55

    Efforts in Progress

    • Partnership
      Bright Spot:
      Capital
      CoLAB’s TalentReady
      program brings together K-12 and higher
      education leaders from five communities— Baltimore City, MD;
      Fairfax County, VA; Montgomery County, MD; Prince George’s County,
      MD; and the District of Columbia—to partner with each other and
      employers on designing pathways that connect high school curricula,
      postsecondary degrees, certifications, and real-world work
      experiences to in-demand IT careers

    • Regional
      Bright Spots:
      CareerWise
      D.
      C. partners with local employers to offer a three-year
      applied-learning program for high school students in which they can
      earn debt-free college credit and nationally-recognized industry
      certifications via work experience in IT, financial services, and
      business operations fields

    • Northrop
      Grumman
      offers apprenticeships for students in two-year
      technical and community colleges studying STEM and advanced
      manufacturing

    Implementation Considerations

    • Employers
      offering work-based learning opportunities should consider flexible
      scheduling so students can attend class and complete required
      assignments, while also obtaining mandatory credentials or required
      on-site hours so they’re eligible for full-time employment upon
      graduation

    • Employers
      should consider providing living wages for student-employees to
      ensure equity of access to work-based learning opportunities

    • Best-in-class
      work-based learning experiences include clear assignments,
      mentorship, applied learning, a cohort experience, access to company
      leadership, and feedback from peers and supervisors

    Recommendation 3 Employee- Student Mentoring Incentivize employees to volunteer with organizations that support students’ skills development, career exploration, and professional networking

    One in three young adults aged 18 to 21 transitions to adulthood
    without a mentor of any kind; this translates into 16 million young
    people nationwide, over half of which are estimated to be “at
    risk.”56 H Mentors can give practical advice on hard and soft skill
    development and career pathways, provide access to a professional
    network, and act as a source of encouragement and accountability
    during key milestones like college applications and interview
    preparation. Well-structured and executed mentorship programs bring
    professional and personal benefits to mentors and mentees, but many
    students are not aware of or do not have access to these
    opportunities. Many private sector employees have benefitted from
    mentorship throughout their academic and professional journeys or
    have lived experiences that make them well-positioned to offer
    guidance to younger generations.

    Expected Impacts

    • Community:
      Young adults with a mentor are 55% less likely than their peers
      without mentors to skip a day of school, and 130% more likely to
      hold leadership positions in the workforce57

    • Private
      Sector:
      Corporate citizenship initiatives like mentoring have
      been shown to improve internal collaboration, retention, and
      organizational commitment, enhance employee performance and
      engagement, and increase creativity58

    Efforts in Progress

    • Regional
      Bright Spots:
      BUILD provides
      entrepreneurship-focused mentoring that equips underserved high
      school students with the necessary skills and confidence to run a
      business Capital Partners for
      Education
      connects mentors with low-income high school and
      college students to support them through graduation

    Implementation Considerations

    • Mentors should
      participate in screening and training processes prior to joining a
      mentoring program, and receive feedback on their mentoring style and
      impact to enhance their support of mentees

    • Employers
      should incentivize mentors and acknowledge their commitment,
      including through stipends, recognition events, and internal and
      external communications

    • Mentorship
      programs are most successful when they are well-structured (e.g.,
      cohort model, expectations for meeting cadence and activities), have
      a long-term time commitment, and have specific goals (e.g., the
      mentee will graduate from high school or apply to college)

Case Study: Capital CoLAB’s Employer Skills Signaling System

Capital CoLAB is an action-oriented partnership of business and academic institutions that develops the talent pipeline for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Capital CoLAB serves as the go-to employer signaling system for high-demand, digital tech occupations and skills in the Capital Region. The Employer Signaling System (ESS) provides transparency into the entry-level knowledge, skills, abilities, and credentials (KSACs) that employers need most, which supports academic institutions as they adapt course pathways to better align with industry trends. The ESS includes information about career pathways, high-growth occupations, and in-demand KSACs.

The ESS Feedback Loop enables a consistent dialogue between employers, educators, and students to ensure KSACs are signaled, integrated, mastered, and updated accordingly.