American Association of Community Colleges Workforce Development Institute Logo

Inspiring Innovation at the 2017 Workforce Development Institute

February 15th 2017 by WorkAmerica Team


Last month, we sponsored the 24th annual American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute, in Newport Beach, CA. The theme was “Inspiring Innovation,” an ambitious yet appropriate goal for an eminent group of workforce development experts from across the country. We joined breakout sessions about aligning labor demand and supply, we spoke to faculty members about sustainability education and leadership development, and we listened to employers talk about the infamous “skills gap.”

The conference sessions encourage attendees to tackle the skills gap by strengthening accountability, redesigning developmental education, and creating more transparent conversations with employers.

The AACC had the “inspiring” part down – WorkAmerica was left to handle the “innovation.” Good thing we’re up to the task.

In our mission to connect education to employment at community and technical colleges, we have looked deep into the root of the problem. What we found was that the “skills gap” everyone keeps talking about has little to do with a lack of skills, or mismatched labor demand and supply. What we’re facing is a communications gap.

WorkAmerica team at AACC WDI 2017

WorkAmerica Cofounder, Michael Colonnese (L) and Ryan Roark, Head of Business Development (center) with Mayra Lombera of Michelson Runway.

Communication Gap is the new Skills Gap

From our school partners, we know that there are graduates struggling to find employment in the field that they are trained for. From our employer partners, we know there are employers hiring for those same skills, yet who are frustrated with their low quality candidate pool. So why aren’t the two finding each other? That is the essence of the communication gap – and that’s where we come in.

WorkAmerica connects students to employers when other services fall short. Career departments at colleges often face a 1:5000 staff to student ratio. LinkedIn overwhelms those seeking technical jobs with postings for high-level, white collar roles. And middle-skill employers, who rely on bloated job boards like Career Builder and Monster, are left without a way to find highly qualified candidates. By placing community college and technical college students, graduates, and employers on one quality-assured platform, WorkAmerica closes the communication gap and eliminates the fallacy of the skills gap.

By helping community college and technical college students create a professional online presence, we also help employers to efficiently and effectively find the right candidates for them. With everyone applying and recruiting in the same place, students land jobs, companies grow their workforce, and schools meet their workforce development goals. That’s inspiring innovation if you ask us!