The downward pressure on the labor force due to demographics, the pandemic, and lower rates of participation continues to force employers to streamline hiring processes and relax job requirements. This pressure is especially acute in talent-starved industries like information technology.

These dynamics have given rise to companies using skills-based training and assessments or fostering partnerships that create a seamless way for employers to reskill potential employees or upskill current employees through short-form credential programs.

Nicholas Java

These companies have increasingly focused on “untapped” segments of the workforce, those with lower levels of education and income and often times diverse audiences that don’t always face a skills gap, but an opportunity gap.

Slowest growth in the working-age population since the Civil War

Today’s labor shortages are only a glimpse into longer-term trends that employers must prepare for. As a case in point, the growth in working-age population in the next decade will be the lowest since the Civil War. Not on a relative basis, but the lowest in terms of an absolute increase in the number of people aged 20 through 60.

What are employers doing in response?

In response, employers are casting a wider net and considering non-degree candidates, despite the increased complexity in the skills required to successfully execute tasks in a world of technological innovation. This had been driven, in part, by companies with different approaches to the same problem. Multiverse, an education platform that matches and trains workers in apprenticeship programs, announced its first U.S. tech partnership, a pilot apprenticeship program with Verizon, last June. There are fewer than 1% registered tech apprenticeships in the U.S. and the shortage of tech talent continues to be a problem. Multiverse and Verizon partner to fill the tech gap through year-long apprenticeships targeting a more diverse pipeline of talent without a four-year degree.

Similarly, SkillStorm provides technology training and certification designed for veterans and transitioning service members with little to no prior information technology experience through its 36-month Department of Labor-approved IT Apprenticeship Program. Skillstorm hires former military talent first, trains them, and then deploys them as specialized teams to its mostly Fortune 500 clients. Skillstorm acquired Talent Path earlier this month, another hire-train-deploy tech company scaling Skillstorm’s ability to provide in-demand talent while creating new career pathways for entry-to-mid-level professionals. Achieve Partners, a backer of Talent Path, will be supporting Skillstrorm’s growth as an investor.

Distinct from apprenticeships, Unmudl offers a skills-to-job marketplace, powered by a network of community colleges and employer partners, for mostly working adults. Unmudl’s mission is to provide the shortest, most flexible, and affordable path possible to a promotion or new job, and it recently announced the close of a $1.275M Seed round led by Stand Together Ventures Lab and with participation from WGU Labs and our own Chris Curran, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Tyton Partners. Unmudl’s model is distinct from Guild, a first-mover upskilling platform for untapped talent that has achieved unicorn status with its last round of funding, as Unmudl sources from a national network of community college students who do not have access to employer tuition assistance. Moreover, unlike Guild’s B2B model, Unmudl is a B2C marketplace opening the doors to many more untapped workers seeking to close the opportunity gap of unequal education and job training.

We will continue to watch these and other providers and employers themselves as they continue to grapple with the “talent gap” and strive to engage more segments of the population in the rapidly changing workforce.

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