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Without a 4-year college degree, many Americans feel that good, sustainable employment options are limited, while at the same time, employers cite difficulty hiring these same middle-skill workers. And the chasm is only expected to increase. According to the National Skills Coalition, between 2014 and 2024, 48 percent of job openings will be middle-skill. Seeing the opportunity for large-scale change, a national foundation set out to effect change on both sides of the labor market by connecting middle-skill job seekers, educators and the labor market. Rêve was engaged by the foundation to develop a strategy and operating model that would help this key initiative gain traction amongst the people it was intended to serve.
In partnership with senior leadership at the foundation, we applied our service design methodology to drive strategic decision-making. We started with a month-long sprint of design research with job seekers, workforce center coaches, and employers using a variety of qualitative research approaches, including in-depth interviews, in-context interviews, and site visits.
During this phase, we validated the complexity and fragmentation of the labor market ecosystem and the barriers for system-wide innovation. We learned that middle-skill job seekers span a wide range of skill and motivation, and that they have a limited awareness of employment options, success stories, and how to translate their skills and experience. We also heard that employers are not always clear on what specific skills they need to be successful in the marketplace, and even if identified, how to communicate these skills to job seekers.
We used these and other insights as the springboard for a 2-day ideation session with over thirty internal leaders and external stakeholders including government leaders, corporate executives, non-profit subject matter experts, and policy leaders.
Using synthesized ideas and prioritized intervention areas as a firm foundation for planning, we supported the development of an operating model. It leveraged previous learnings, assets, and capabilities and sought to maximize impact through partnership. To aid in implementation of this new model, we developed a detailed twelve-month plan including key activities, timing, milestones, metrics, deliverables, and resourcing.
Given the complexity of the environment in which the foundation operated, much of our work was focused on developing an ecosystem view of stakeholders, barriers, and interventions. We successfully aligned the foundations’ key senior leaders on a new direction, as well as on concrete initiatives, timelines, and roles, while generating energy and excitement.
The team is now executing the new model, continuing to fundraise to accelerate execution, and starting to co-create new opportunities with existing and prospective partners.
// >30 interviews and observations,
including participation from
core team members
// Journey Maps for job-seekers,
workforce center coaches, and employers
// Research report detailing
insights and notable themes
// Detailed ecosystem map with
key stakeholders and barriers
// 2-day ideation session
with 30+ participants
// 12-month operational plan,
inclusive of objectives, activities,
timing, and resourcing model
// Executive Strategy Deck
for communicating new direction
and rationale for existing
and prospective partners