A D.C. Strategy for Talent, Jobs and College Completion

The Federal City Council and its community of business leaders are coming together to support a new modern youth apprenticeship pilot this fall that will transform the lives of our young people, benefit talent-hungry local businesses and sustain D.C.’s vibrant local economy.

For this effort to be successful, we know we will need FC2 Trustees to lead the way. Here are three concrete ways you can participate:

  1. Hire apprentices by committing to training X apprentices in Y occupations.
  2. Become a champion by recruiting other employer partners.
  3. Provide additional work-based learning experiences for young people in the District in the form of guest speaking, job shadowing, internships, etc.

If you’re ready to get involved or would like to learn more, please contact Jennie Niles (jniles@citybridge.org) or Kevin Clinton (kclinton@federalcitycouncil.org).

CityWorks DC

Washington’s regional economy is booming with thousands of high-wage, high-demand jobs, and yet too few are currently filled by graduates of DC public schools. At the same time, employers, who primarily recruit from traditional talent pools (i.e., graduates of four-year institutions), struggle to build a diverse workforce.

This status quo is costly—for young people, employers, government and society at large. As Richard Bynum of PNC Bank put it, “How we are equipping young people with the skills they need to land ‘good jobs’ has never been more important. The shared economic future of our region is at stake.”

What if employers were the key to a better way to develop young talent? The mission of CityWorks DC, a new entrepreneurial, non-profit venture incubated by CityBridge Education, is to reshape the local education-to-employment pathway so that the workplace becomes a third anchor place of learning, in addition to K-12 and higher education. CityWorks DC aims to confront historical inequities, accelerate the healthy development of our youth and build a local talent pipeline that benefits employers—all in pursuit of a single vision: dramatically increasing the number of young people who can access family-sustaining careers in Washington, DC.

CareerWise Colorado and CareerWise New York

As its first major initiative, CityWorks DC will launch a new modern youth apprenticeship program in the District in 2020. On February 18th, the Federal City Council and CityWorks DC hosted a roundtable discussion with key business leaders to hear from Noel Ginsburg, a Colorado business owner and the founder of CareerWise Colorado. He is responsible for catalyzing the modern youth apprenticeship movement in the United States.

Still the active CEO of Intertech Plastics, an advanced manufacturing firm based in Denver, Noel told a powerful origin story about Colorado’s new statewide system. Noel spent decades contributing his time, money and leadership to Denver Public Schools and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation. Four years ago, Noel found what he was looking for during a trip he co-led with Governor Hickenlooper to study the exemplary Swiss education-employment system. Noel committed to building a statewide youth apprenticeship system inspired by the Swiss model. Upon his return, launched the nonprofit intermediary called CareerWise Colorado.

The CareerWise model is a robust, three-year, work-based learning experience that starts in 11th grade and continues through one year post-high school graduation. Young people are trained—and paid—to do meaningful work for a company. They earn both industry-based certifications and postsecondary credit, while also developing occupation-specific and transferable competencies and developing a professional network of supportive adults. Employers build a local, diverse talent pipeline for hard-to-fill positions, increase employee retention, lower recruiting costs and increase productivity. As Mayor Tony Williams noted, “This is the rare program that combines economic impact and social impact in equal part. That is a powerful convergence.”

Now in the third year of their initial pilot, CareerWise Colorado has placed more than 450 young apprentices in over 100 local businesses, with the ambitious long-term goal of 20,000 apprentices statewide. In addition, with technology infrastructure, competency sets and training plans for 30 different occupations, CareerWise is building a model that can be adapted in different cities and states across the country. CareerWise Colorado is now a national standard for high-quality youth apprenticeships.

Case in point: Less than 18 months ago, Noel Ginsburg presented to a New York City business council chaired by J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Soon after, Jamie rallied his peers to stand up a pilot and commit to hosting youth apprentices. In the summer of 2019, Jamie then led a delegation of CEO’s to the same Swiss institute that Colorado leaders had attended three years prior. That fall, CareerWise New York City launched its pilot cohort, which included 90 apprentices placed at major Fortune 500 employers including Amazon, Accenture, and Bank of America.

CareerWise DC

This coming fall of 2020, in partnership with the Federal City Council, CityWorks DC will pilot CareerWise DC, starting with 30 youth apprentices from 5 to 8 high schools in three industry pathways (Information Technology, Business Operations and Financial Services). An employer coalition made up of business leaders from PNC Bank, Capital One, Accenture, Donohoe and Enlightened, Inc. will continue to shepherd this initiative.

This effort will build on the substantial career readiness infrastructure of the D.C. Career Academy Network and will complement the high-quality internship providers like Urban Alliance, Genesys Works and On-Ramps to Careers.

Washington, DC is at a crucial inflection point. Key efforts are now underway, including Talent Ready, a recent J.P. Morgan Chase-sponsored effort that is building IT pathways from K-12 through postsecondary institutions in our region. Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn now also oversees the Department of Employment Services and the Workforce Investment Council. With other core advantages—our small size, an engaged business community, generous philanthropic partners and a fast-improving K-12 system—we are poised to build out a more coherent education-employment system. The District has an exciting opportunity to become a national proof point for building a more equitable education-employment pathway and to have that transformation led by employers.