The trucking industry needs to hire 95,000 new truckers every year, but training programs turn out only 75,000 and half the job applicants are ineligible due to recent drunk driving convictions. A startup called WorkAmerica is trying to fill the gap: The company vets would-be truckers and places them in community college training programs — with a guaranteed job offer.
“No student should enroll in a vocational job program without having a job guarantee,” said Collin Gutman, WorkAmerica’s CEO and co-founder. “We get jobs for people before they start a college class.”
“A growing number of startups want to play the matchmaker role between community colleges and employers,” reports Inside Higher Ed.
WorkAmerica plans to forge partnerships with community colleges and expand into high-churn fields such as welding, medical assistants, and IT and HVAC technicians.
Employers pay the company to screen prospective hires. If they meet the company’s requirements, they get a job offer good if the applicant completes the academic program in good standing. Community colleges, which pay nothing, “get a pipeline of students without having to spend on marketing,” reports Inside Higher Ed.
Maryland’s Hagerstown Community College is considering a partnership with WorkAmerica for the college’s eight-week trucking program. The company is talking to Anne Arundel Community College , also in Maryland, about pilot programs in several fields beyond trucking, Gutman said.
Another company, Workforce IO, has created a technology platform to link employers with job trainers such as community colleges, nonprofit organizations, mentors or bosses.
Workforce IO hinges on being able to vouch for the reliability of entry-level job candidates. It does that by having created a “library of skills” in various fields and offering digital badges for those skills, said Elena Valentine, a co-founder of the company.
Workforce IO has collaborated with Grand Rapids Community College, in Michigan, as well as an Illinois campus of Everest College, a for-profit institution.