Chase Commits $5 Million To Bridge Skills Gap With Needs-Based Training Program
New training efforts are valuable to Irving-based Signal Metal Industries, which has had trouble finding welders and other skilled workers.
by Sheryl Jean
May 06, 2014
Source: Dallas Morning News
After years of hearing from clients about how hard it is to find skilled workers, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is offering a helping hand.
On Tuesday, the bank will announce a $5 million commitment to the city of Dallas to help shrink the skills gap. Not enough workers are qualified to fill jobs in demand in industries such as construction, health care and manufacturing.
It’s part of a five-year national initiative Chase launched in December to invest $250 million to provide job training and fund local research to identify the areas most in need. The bank will focus on people without a university degree and those who want to make a career shift, said Chauncy Lennon, leader of the New Skills at Work program.
“What you hear from businesses over and over again is [that they’re having] trouble finding the right kind of workforce … and that it was a constraint on productivity and competitiveness,” Lennon said. “It’s in our interest for the economy to be strong.”
The Chase initiative is among several new private programs aimed at helping businesses shift into high gear as the economic recovery accelerates. Next week in Dallas, Goldman Sachs will launch 10,000 Small Businesses, an initiative to invest $500 million to help U.S. small companies create jobs and grow.
“Addressing the skills gap will reduce unemployment in Dallas, providing greater stability and prosperity for families across our city,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement.
Anne Motsenbocker, the Dallas-based president of Chase’s South middle market, said the bank’s program could reach 4 million people nationally, including about 200,000 in the Dallas area. Other cities in the program include Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami.
Employers nationwide had 4.2 million unfilled jobs in February, up from 3.9 million in January.
Chase will kick off the program with a $500,000 grant to the Dallas County Community College District to train certified nursing aides to become patient care technicians, increasing their wages by 20 percent, Motsenbocker said.
New training efforts are valuable to Irving-based Signal Metal Industries, which has had trouble finding welders and other skilled workers, said president Ryan Robinson. The $30 million steel fabricating company is a Chase client.
“These are old-school, blue-collar trades,” Robinson said. “It’s been very challenging to find those people.”
Bob McTeer, distinguished fellow at the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said the skills gap is real.
“When you look at unemployment by education — it’s really an education gap,” he said. “Maybe students have gotten the idea that manual labor is inferior … but if they’re not qualified for other work, what’s wrong with manual labor?”
The International Monetary Fund estimates the skills gap accounts for one-third of the U.S. unemployment rate.
“It’s really about helping people move up — and out of the working poverty level,” Motsenbocker said. “We recognize there is no silver bullet to solve this problem.”