New Collaborative Calls Upon Bay Area Employers to Create Career Opportunities for All

Workday Foundation, JFF, Opportunity@Work, SkillUp Coalition Launch Bay Area Opportunity Onramps to Help 5,000 Workers Without College Degrees Restart Their Careers 

(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 15, 2021) Four organizations addressing workforce development today announced Bay Area Opportunity Onramps, a new collaborative that aims to place 5,000 workers from the Bay Area in full-time, middle-wage jobs over the next three years. The initiative seeks to engage employers and training providers across the Bay Area as partners to help people recovering from the past year’s economic fallout. 

Led by JFF,  Opportunity@Work, and the SkillUp Coalition, with seed support from the Workday Foundation, and on-the-ground support from JVS, Bay Area Opportunity Onramps offers a new approach for jointly addressing the needs of employers, jobseekers, and training providers. The unique initiative aims to create new pathways to economic mobility for workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes, known as “STARs,” rather than through a four-year college degree. 

The Bay Area is home to 1.1 million STARs, among whom are the majority of Black and Hispanic workers, essential workers, and veterans. Many have been displaced during the COVID-19 crisis. STARs have developed valuable, in-demand skills through community college, workforce training, bootcamps, certificate programs, military service, or on-the-job learning, but are often screened out when employers require a four-year degree. Employers that join Bay Area Opportunity Onramps will gain access to Stellarworx, Opportunity@Work’s online talent platform, which leverages Workday’s skill cloud. Stellarworx helps employers find, vet, and hire local STARs who meet their need for skilled talent and whose employment is essential to achieving an equitable economic recovery.

Bay Area Opportunity Onramps is modeled after a similar program at Workday, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. “Providing economic mobility for all, particularly people from under-resourced communities, is more important than ever in today’s changing world of work,” said Carrie Varoquiers, vice president of Global Impact & Employee Life at Workday, and president of the Workday Foundation. “At Workday, Opportunity Onramps®️ has catalyzed a movement, and to keep this momentum going, we’re calling on employers from across the Bay Area to join forces to help change the way we as organizations hire. Together, we can work to close the opportunity gap.”

Bay Area Opportunity Onramps offers an equitable solution to meet today’s hiring demand in the region. “As Bay Area companies seek to diversify their talent, they will find a solution in the 1.1 million Bay Area STARs. STARs represent a massive and diverse talent pool, which is why we created the Stellarworx platform to connect them to companies,” said Byron Auguste, the CEO of Opportunity@Work. “According to our research, 23,000 Bay Area STARs in retail sales roles have transferable skills for tech sales positions. Low-wage work is often falsely equated with ‘low skill,’ and the lack of a degree is wrongly presumed to reflect a lack of skills.”

“What really sets this Bay Area collaboration apart from other job training and placement programs is the coalition’s unique partnerships,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF and a SkillUp Coalition board member. “The coalition’s diverse partners, innovative tech platforms, training providers, and community leaders like JVS, with deep connections throughout the region, provide workers with a unique, end-to-end experience where they can connect to quality training and prepare them for quality roles and careers.”

Today SkillUp also launched a website where STARs can explore vetted, trusted upskilling programs to help them secure a foothold in high-growth industries such as technology, health care, business, and the skilled trades.

“Few areas in the country better exemplify the so-called ‘K-shaped recovery’ than the Bay Area. While most knowledge economy workers have remained employed, that hasn’t been the case for far too many workers without college degrees,” said Steven Lee, executive director of the SkillUp Coalition. “SkillUp was founded to help the latter grab on to and achieve the same prosperity those on the upward slope have been experiencing. We’re so grateful to all of our partners, especially the Workday Foundation for their meaningful financial support, for joining in a collective effort to help workers in the Bay Area upskill and access a brighter future.”

Employers interested in joining our efforts can learn more at www.opportunityatwork.org/bayarea.   

STARs interested in exploring available upskilling programs are invited to visit www.skillup.org/bay-area.  

About JFF

JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For more than 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. www.jff.org 

About Opportunity@Work 

Opportunity@Work is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase career opportunities for the more than 70 million adults in the United States who do not have a four-year college degree but are Skilled Through Alternative Routes—or “STARs.” We build products, tools, and solutions that enable companies to hire STARs based on in-demand skills—not pedigree. Together with employers, educators, workforce leaders, and philanthropists, Opportunity@Work and its partners are rewiring the labor market for STARs to unlock their full earning potential. For more information, visit www.opportunityatwork.org/bayarea

About the SkillUp Coalition

SkillUp, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition, is devoted to helping workers impacted by COVID-19 get rehired for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. The Coalition also enables partners to share best practices, collaborate on shared challenges, and participate in public engagement campaigns that help COVID-affected workers begin a prosperous new stage in their careers. Consisting of leading training and education providers, employers, technology developers, and job readiness nonprofits, SkillUp provides career navigation, training programs, and job opportunities to help frontline workers secure their place in the economy of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.skillup.org/bay-area.

About Workday

Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, helping customers adapt and thrive in a changing world. Workday applications for financial management, human resources, planning, spend management, and analytics have been adopted by thousands of organizations around the world and across industries—from medium-sized businesses to more than 45 percent of the Fortune 500. For more information about Workday, visit workday.com.

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