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The Fund, Others Respond to Plain Dealer Article on the Skills Gap

In response to the Aug. 3 story, "Closing the skills gap becoming a focus in Cleveland and Washington, D.C.," we'd like to stress an enormous opportunity exists to more tangibly match job seekers to openings based upon the skills employers seek and for companies to find the employees they need. A number of Northeast Ohio community colleges, businesses, chambers of commerce and workforce investment boards, as well as MAGNET, Towards Employment, the Fund for Our Economic Future and others, are examining a new model that has proven effective elsewhere: skills-based hiring.

In the coming months, we will be reaching out to employers to pilot a skills-based hiring initiative, which has garnered the attention of the White House, as well as bipartisan support. The initiative builds on work done in New Mexico, in which a skills-competency test is administered as an employment screen. It has been shown to be five times more effective as a predictor of job performance than educational degrees alone, increase the pool of job candidates and save employers loads of time and money.

The success of programs like WorkAdvance — a national workforce development pilot Towards Employment is implementing regionally — and the strong cross-sector partnerships that exist in Northeast Ohio, make us a natural test market for this model. We are excited to see where this pilot leads and invite interested manufacturing employers who wish to participate to reach out to us.

Brad Whitehead, President, Fund for Our Economic Future

Jill Rizika, Executive Director, Towards Employment

Dan Berry, President and CEO, MAGNET

Cleveland