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The leaders of two nonprofit organizations new to the Dallas Region discussed their missions to bridge the gap from entry-level jobs to higher-skilled, higher-paying positions on Nov. 29 at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s third Education to Employment Outlook Series.

Jamai Blivin, Founder and CEO of Innovate+Educate, and Garrett Moran, President of Year Up, said Dallas’ growing economy in information technology, health care and retail services made the region a logical next step for their work.

Year Up is already working with about 200 Dallas Region residents, said Moran, whose nonprofit serves about 3,000 students nationwide. Innovate+Educate, meanwhile, aims to train more than 2,000 individuals in the Dallas Region annually to help participants move from lower-skill, lower-paid positions to the next level.

The Dallas Regional Chamber invited both nonprofit leaders as part of its mission of working with educators and employers to help create better career options for students and to establish a highly trained workforce for the Dallas Region’s economy.

Event moderator Alfreda B. Norman, Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said one misperception many prospective employees have is that if they don’t go to college, they must settle for entry-level jobs, with little chance for advancement.

Year Up and Innovate+Educate both aim to bridge that gap by preparing potential workers for positions that have opportunities for advancement built in.

Year Up, aimed at low-income high-school graduates ages 18-24, trains young adults with job skills and coursework that is eligible for college credit. Virtually all students who complete their first six months of training – which is Information Technology intensive, and emphasizes professional development – are then paired up with corporate partners and mentors, and serve internships in the program’s remaining six months. Year Up operates in 16 major metro areas, including the Dallas Region, and endeavors to fill 12 million higher-skill jobs with 6 million young adults who are looking for work.

Innovate+Educate works with employees and employers to help workers with entry-level jobs progress higher in the ranks of their companies. The nonprofit, which has several ventures across the U.S., encourages companies to value their employees’ life skills as they might pursue a formal degree or certification.

Blivin said the top core competency employers are looking for in hires is Excel, followed by customer service skills, Microsoft Office, scheduling, and the ability to have successful contact with customers.

Moran said Year Up has plenty of corporate partners but is looking for participants, who sometimes question whether the nonprofit – which exacts no fee from its trainees – is too good to be true.

“If you know of any 18- to 24-year-olds looking for a job, send them to us,” Moran said, adding that the biggest obstacle for employment in that population is obtaining reliable transportation.

Event series sponsors were Oncor, State Farm Insurance Companies, Texas Instruments, and the University of North Texas System.

Reposted from the Dallas Regional Chamber Education & Workforce Blog

By Dave Moore, Data Journalist and Staff Writer