This is what a liberal and flexible economy does best: make room for people who solve problems. Inside Higher Ed reports that two new companies have begun playing “matchmaker” for community college students and employers, in order to fill in-demand jobs in trucking, welding, and other skilled and semi-skilled jobs. Here’s what one company provides:
WorkAmerica gets paid by employers, which, in several industries, are desperate for trained workers. Community colleges pay nothing and get a pipeline of students without having to spend on marketing. […]Community colleges generally practice open-door admissions. That means they don’t turn away students for background issues, like having an arrest on their record for driving under the influence. While that approach may be central to a college’s mission, it’s a big issue for a trucking company that can’t hire graduates with recent DUIs on their record — as well as for enrollees who might not realize a criminal conviction like that could be a disqualifier for a job. […]That’s where WorkAmerica wants to step in, with the lure of removing risk from all sides.The company screens prospective hires/students. They get a formal job offer if they meet the company’s baseline hiring requirements. The employer promises to bring on students who complete the academic program in good standing. Some of those programs may be noncredit. Others are certificate tracks. And degree programs could work, too.
WorkAmerica has only implemented its program for truckers so far, but is working with colleges to expand its offerings. The selling point of a similar company, Workforce IO, is its ability to “vouch for the reliability of entry-level job candidates.” It permits both colleges and the employers give “badges” for skills workers earn on the job or in the classroom, creating a “common language” between them.This sounds like a harbinger of future flexible work environments, where the line between acquiring skills and working may begin to blur. In the information economy, workers may have to update their skills almost continuously, likely with the help of cheap and flexible online resources. These companies are acting as guarantors of quality, so that employers and schools can be sure of what a student actually knows (so long as the company’s review process gives accurate results). We’d say this is a great solution to employers’ frequent complaint that a certificate or degree doesn’t tell them enough about what an applicant can actually do. If companies are willing to provide a more rigorous review of a potential employee, and keep guaranteeing his or her reliability and skills possibly throughout a whole career, we imagine companies would be more than glad to pay for the service.Colleges get students, students get jobs, employers get workers—and the company gets paid. As the article says, everybody wins.