pioneer talent financing
Millions of Americans have the ability, but not the means, to attain digital-age middle class jobs through upskilling and job retraining. Barriers such as a lack of traditional credentials, low credit scores, and personal circumstances prevent people from pursuing higher-paying jobs - jobs that would break the cycle of poverty and help individuals and their families attain greater financial stability. Moreover, current financing options do not effectively align incentives around successful career outcomes for the individual.
Opportunity@Work has a radical yet simple solution: remove these barriers by constructing a financing system that aligns all information, incentives, and returns around the individual’s success. After 2 years of incubation and testing, Opportunity@Work launched the “Earn and Learn” pilot in November 2017.
Key elements of our solution include:
- Inclusive selection: the underwriting process is based on the ROI of the education pathway (as proven by their outcomes data) and an individual’s potential to succeed – not on past credit history or pedigree.
- Payments tied to individuals’ success: individuals will pay a portion of their income – benchmarked to affordability and sustainability for the individual - so payments are based on success and designed to be affordable.
- Education provider risk sharing: a share of the revenue to the education or training institution will be tied to student graduation and job placement, aligning the educators’ incentive with student success
- Wrap around support: individuals receive funding to cover living expenses, transportation, computer access and other supports necessary for successful completion
- Pay it forward: any surplus returns from repayments after netting out costs flow back into the fund to support future indiviuals on their education-to-employment journey.
Opportunity@Work, along with General Assembly, is currently piloting the Learn and Earn Program in Washington, DC with an initial cohort of low-income students who are currently overlooked or underrepresented in tech occupations. We have plans to launch additional pilots in other cities in the near future. The pilots will be conducted in partnership with leading accelerated training institutions (both nonprofit and for-profit) with proven outcomes - for example, high graduation and job placement rates into skilled jobs with strong future demand and salary growth.
We will use the learnings from the pilot to improve and deploy a solution that we believe can transform student financing – aligning incentives around upward mobility for the individual. It will allow low-income American strivers with the ability to acquire skills for our dynamic economy to reach their potential, support their families, and inspire their communities as they “pay it forward”. Importantly, at a time of rapid disruption in our economy, we aim to prove a model that will allow low-income individuals and lower-wage employees to access effective (re) training for in-demand jobs and careers.