Over the past two years, the federal government has invested billions of dollars to create good-paying jobs as part of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” framework. Additional legislation, like the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, aim to create millions of new jobs through investments in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. Collectively, this legislation generates opportunities for rural learners seeking good jobs. It also accelerates the need for rural training pathways that prepare these learners.
These important investments add to the urgency of filling good jobs in key sectors like healthcare, teaching, and skilled trades. It’s also critical that stakeholders such as industrial employers, local labor leaders, work centers, community colleges, and community groups work together to ensure the jobs created, and the training pathways to these jobs, are good ones.
Ascendium recently made several investments in organizations embedded in rural communities. They are already engaged in work to develop new training pathways aligned with labor market needs in their regions and are committed to building cross-sector partnerships in support of new pathways to good jobs. Because of this experience, these organizations are well positioned to respond to opportunities like the federal infrastructure investment.
- Goodwill Industries International is expanding its Opportunity Accelerator model, which elevates opportunities for individuals to complete degrees, certifications, and apprenticeships. Goodwill centers in eight rural communities will use the Opportunity Accelerator model to develop new training pathways aligned to labor market needs in their regions. They will coordinate with workforce training providers and support learners as they complete training aligned with high-demand jobs.
- Education Design Lab is strengthening the ability of rural colleges and states to better meet the needs of learners through high-quality, workforce-aligned training pathways. The work will focus on strengthening capacity in rural community colleges to design and implement new pathways to good jobs by working with other postsecondary education providers, K-12 education providers, employers, and workforce training partners.
- Economic Mobility Systems is expanding its Rural Regional Talent Network model to three additional rural communities in Texas. The model brings together employers, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations within a specific region to address workforce needs and create a skilled, competitive labor pool to meet the demands of local industries.
Education and workforce stakeholder engagement will be an important aspect of each grant’s success. By collaborating more intentionally, these stakeholders have the ability to build meaningful pathways between postsecondary education and work. When postsecondary education and training programs are aligned with the demands of local industries, it becomes more likely that rural learners can access and complete high-quality training that leads to a good job.