learn / 2014

Bridge Skilled Workers & Businesses to Have LA Become the First Certified Work Ready Community in CA

Bridge Skilled Workers & Businesses to Have LA Become the First Certified Work Ready Community in CA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by MAPS 4 College

We close the skills gap by giving people the academic and professional tools needed to graduate from college and succeed in the workforce.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We close the skills gap by giving people the academic and professional tools needed to graduate from college and succeed in the workforce.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley

What is your idea/project in more detail?

MAPS is aligned with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Forward Thinking:1. LA will be the first “ACT Certified Work Ready Community” in CA to create a network between people and businesses. 2. Those who pass Skills Exams will receive the National Career Readiness Certificate, gaining an advantage over other applicants. Customized, skill-building, paid training for 120 at-risk, unemployed people above 17 years of age – 60 with MAPS and 60 with the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) receive separate soft skills training and 500 hrs of paid work experience. We are committed to determine the most effective program using valid/reliable pre/post assessments to close the skills gap, build a school-to-work pathway, and all employed

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

MAPS and WIB will determine the effectiveness of each other’s professional skills program while sharing resources. On a programmatic level, MAPS and WIB: 1. Will recruit 120 unemployed adults and out-of-school youth ages ranging from 17-22. Both will be matched by age, initial test level, and ethnicity. All 120 will take 6 computer-based valid and reliable Workkeys assessments to determine career readiness and soft skill levels.

  1. Each pair will be split into two agencies, which are MAPS and WIB with 30 youth and 30 adults each. Both agencies will provide different educational/professional skills training.
  2. All 120 will receive access to activities that are suitable to their employment and/or training needs at WIB.
  3. WIB will pay for 500 hours of job training for all 120 people, where 60 will work at MAPS site and 60 will work through WIB’s contacts.
  4. At MAPS, custom-tailored skill building tasks will be provided for individuals to align with their career goals. Also, they will work on a collaborative goal to showcase a city-wide event addressing an issue they desire to eliminate in the city. For example, MAPS students have hosted county-wide teen summits and college fairs from start to finish.
  5. After training completion, 120 will take post-training assessments. Scores higher than 3 will receive the nationally recognized career readiness certificate–career ready!

We will be the driving force to bridge agencies and people to not only discuss the problem, but to take action. MAPS will:

  1. continue to hold events and meetings with leaders and elected officials to establish collaborative partnerships.
  2. recruit at least six representatives with significant leadership responsibilities in their prospective agencies to form the executive team by December 2014.

With the executive team, we will:

  1. connect via phone, online, or in person to develop workforce framework and execution plan. Before March 2015, the team will submit the work ready community application for consideration.
  2. spearhead LA County by reaching out to our contacts to establish a conglomerate group of agencies from various industries, schools, economic development corporations, and colleges to join this unified work ready movement.
  3. agree upon a written and online agreement with the agencies who adhere to help people become work ready and create a bridge for people to receive livable wages.
  4. Sponsor to pay 10 employment agencies as test site centers.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

Close the Skills Gap - MAPS will continue to prepare underskilled workers, youth, and adults for college and the workforce using our unique training approach. Since 2009, 100% of our low-income, minority youth and adults who completed our college/career programs secured employment, went to college/graduate school, or achieved their next goal.

Develop a Replicable Workforce, Skills Training Program - We want to launch our program in a new city to determine whether is it possible to replicate similar results. In doing so, we desire to develop a workforce system model.

Help Industries Measure Work-Related Skills in Need - We will measure the effectiveness of MAPS and WIB’s skill building, job training programs using valid/reliable skills and pre/post assessments to measure whether people have the academic, social, and emotional skills to succeed in the workplace (career ready). Not only will we get people work ready, but these assessments are actual exams for the National Career Readiness Certificate!

Match People and Business to Increase Economic Growth - The certificate will give people an edge in the recruitment process to help identify qualified workers. So far, there are more than 5,600 corporations throughout the nation that recognize this certification.

Start a Small School-College-Work Bridge Aligned with New Workforce Act - We will start with one city to establish a bridge using the National Certificate exams to unite LA schools, colleges, businesses and agencies. The groups help create paths for people to be skilled, prevent outsourcing, reduce unemployment rates, and secure jobs to boost LA’s economy. MAPS’ drive is to spearhead this mission to unify multiple agencies to become the first certified work ready community in California. This effort will start near Southeast LA and then spread to other regions.

In 2050, LA will be aligned with Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act and developed the workforce system. Businesses, schools, and agencies will adhere to the research-based assessments as an indicator to determine whether people are certifiably ready for the workforce. People will have the necessary foundational skills to be competitive in the market and secure careers they are passionate about while maintaining strong and positive character, leadership, and interpersonal skills to improve the quality of their lives, the workplace environment, and LA. LA will be a fully functioning workforce model for CA.

Whom will your project benefit?

When multiple agencies work synergistically together to become a certified work ready community, everyone benefits. This community-based approach creates a platform where people, businesses, communities, and the local government can support each other through focused strategic initiatives to help bridge resources. If people are skilled, employers will hire the right people, employment rates and revenue will increase, and people will live quality lives. This unified approach creates an economic powerhouse for LA.

Under skilled, at-risk, unemployed people - When people take the valid/reliable assessments, they will be part of the 2.3 million nationally recognized certificate holders who have the level of skills needed to be work ready. With more than 40 statewide/regions that have adopted the certificate programs and more than 5,600 businesses who use this certification to assess skill level, the people in LA will be part of this nationwide movement.

People whose skills rank above 3 out of 7 for the assessments will receive the National Career Readiness Certificate. The certificate will help them distinguish themselves during the hiring process because they will have evidence demonstrating their skill level.

Businesses- With many businesses searching for skilled talent through a pile of applicants, this certificate can help recruiters save time. Businesses can function at an optimal level without concerns about the skills of their employees.

City-wide to State-wide- The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity 2014 Act requires states to begin developing a statewide workforce development system. This grant will initiate approaches to develop models and systems for one city and then expand to the state. Through this collaborative effort, LA will be the catalyst for positive change.

MAPS- This grant will elevate us onto a different platform to demonstrate that we, in fact, have the most innovative, result-oriented, school-to-college-to-work bridge. If the results are equivalent to our previous program outcomes, our process-oriented training approach will establish itself as a replicable model.

Overall, every collaborative sector: people, school/colleges, agencies, and industries will benefit.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

SELACO Workforce Investment Board provides services to seven cities, City of Baldwin Park, development corporations, additional cities in LA county, businesses and corporations, governmental agencies, community colleges, universities, charter schools, school districts, small business development agencies, elected officials, and organizations. When multiple agencies work synergistically together to become a certified work ready community, everyone benefits. This community-based approach creates a platform where people, businesses, communities, and the local government can support each other through focused strategic initiatives to help bridge resources. If people are skilled, employers will hire the right people, employment rates and revenue will increase, and people will live quality lives. This unified approach creates an economic powerhouse for LA.

Under skilled, at-risk, unemployed people - When people take the valid and reliable assessments, they will be part of the 2.3 million nationally recognized certificate holders who have the level of skills needed to be work ready. With more than 40 statewide/regions that have adopted the certificate programs and more than 5,600 businesses who use this certification to assess skill level, the people in LA will be part of this nationwide movement.

People whose skills rank above 3 out of 7 for the assessments will receive the National Career Readiness Certificate. The certificate will help them distinguish themselves during the hiring process because they will have evidence demonstrating their skill level.

Businesses - With so many businesses searching for skilled talent through a pile of applicants, this certificate can help recruiters save time. Businesses can function at an optimal level without worrying too much about their new employees.

City-wide to State-wide - The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity 2014 Act requires states to begin developing a statewide workforce development system. This grant will initiate approaches to develop models and systems for one city and then expand to the state. Through this collaborative effort, LA will be the catalyst for positive change.

MAPS - This grant will leverage us into a different platform to demonstrate that we, in fact, have the most innovative, result-oriented school-to-college-to-work pipeline. If the results are equivalent to our previous program outcomes, our process-oriented, training approach will establish itself as a replicable model.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Youth unemployment and underemployment 60 at-risk youth will obtain hands-on, skill building career training program. They will be paid $9/hour for 500 hours of service. 30 of the youth who work directly with MAPS will receive customizable job training program that will align them with their future goals and visions.

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric) Los Angeles has been been the economic driving force in CA. However, depending on where people live in LA, there is a divide between the college resources and job opportunities. When LA County establishes itself as certified work ready community, businesses, schools, and colleges will develop an education to workforce pipeline and integrated partnership that will prepare students to complete their degrees and prepare for the workforce. Agencies will work together.

College matriculation rates After participating in the job training program and taking the national career readiness certificate exam, youth and adults may want to go back to college.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Evaluation using the following:

  1. Submit Certified Work Ready Community application with six executive leaders before March 2015. To be considered for the next nationwide county program, the leaders must be from each of the following parties: economic development, community college, workforce agency representative, and K-12 representative, and other agencies.

  2. MAPS will evaluate the change in skills using the valid and reliable assessments. We anticipate that every person will be awarded the national career ready certificate.

  3. Before the end of the grant period, our goal is to have a minimum of 500 schools, colleges, agencies, businesses, workforce agencies, organizations, elected officials, and people to join the school to work pipeline “work ready” initiative. They will sign a participation agreement form stating their interest and level of participation, from “I believe in what you do – to – “I’m in, how can I get involved.”

  4. MAPS will launch 10 test sites at various workforce and employment agencies who provide direct services for people to become skilled and are interested in becoming a workready community site. The agencies will agree to administer the Workkeys assessments, so people may qualify to receive the national certificate.

  5. By the end of the program, MAPS will establish itself as the soft skills training program that not only provides the valid and reliable assessments for people to receive a national certificate but also help people maintain long-lasting soft skills that can be used for work and life.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. Businesses are looking for skilled laborers with quality soft skills needed to thrive in the workplace. However, measuring soft skills and teaching these skills are difficult to come by because people are difficult to change. In the beginning, new employees are happy workers, but in due time, most complain and are unhappy. About 80% of people in the nation are dissatisfied with their jobs. To combat negative attitude and behavior and lack of productivity, MAPS has implemented a unique career training program for people to develop authentic soft-skills that transfer in the workplace, home, and relationships. In our program, marriages and relationships strengthened, people learned how to get rid of negative emotions and attitudes, and they became motivated. Many developed strong teamwork skills and learned how to help others despite their given tasks. We have testimonials to prove our results; however, people are skeptical with our results. They wonder if we really can redirect people to live better lives. In order to “prove” our results, this time we would like to use research-based pre- and post-assessments to measure people’s change in their productivity, interpersonal skills, attitude, problem-solving, enthusiasm, and more.

  2. People are looking for jobs that will help them “pay the bills,” but we know they need livable wages. The issue with many low-paying workers is due to their skill level and difficulty in taking a new path. Low paying jobs impacts relationships and work performance. Our reason to create a “LA Hub” is to develop a network/relationship with businesses and agencies who will adhere to providing livable wages for people, even if they are low-skilled workers. In order to increase the economy, we need people to receive better pay to buy goods and services.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Youth unemployment and underemployment 60 at-risk youth will obtain hands-on, skill building career training program. They will be paid $9/hour for 500 hours of service. 30 of the youth who work directly with MAPS will receive customizable job training program that will align them with their future goals and visions

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric) Los Angeles has been been the economic driving force in CA. However, depending on where people live in LA, there is a divide between the college resources and job opportunities. When LA County establishes itself as certified work ready community, businesses, schools, and colleges will develop an education to workforce pipeline and integrated partnership that will prepare students to complete their degrees and prepare for the workforce. Agencies will work together.

College matriculation rates After participating in the job training program and taking the national career readiness certificate exam, youth and adults may want to go back to college.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

  1. One major challenge is to have people and businesses recognize the national career readiness certificate in California. Other progressive states and thousands of businesses have adopted the certificate as an indicator to measure people’s skill level; however, CA has not. MAPS and leaders are working together to influence people in Los Angeles County that the Certified Work Ready Community model is an important approach to bridging resources and helping everyone because we are all impacted by each other.

  2. One major challenge is to have people and businesses recognize the national career readiness certificate in California. Other progressive states and thousands of businesses have adopted the certificate as an indicator to measure people’s skill level; however, CA has not. MAPS and leaders are working together to influence people in Los Angeles County that the Certified Work Ready Community model is an important approach to bridging resources and helping everyone because we are all impacted by each other.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach