The world of work is changing, and those with barriers to employment are being left behind. Workforce development nonprofits connect people who need jobs to the services and training they need to find careers and thrive.
In the first half of 2020 over 40 million people in the U.S. filed for unemployment. Now a staggering number of people are looking to workforce development nonprofits for support. These programs use education and training to help people access jobs that pay a living wage and carry benefits. And those jobs can then lift families out of poverty and strengthen communities.
Looking for in-depth resources for a workforce development nonprofit you work with? Our latest project guide outlines how organizations like yours can build capacity in areas like IT, design, and business planning through pro bono. Check it out to find the perfect project(s) for your nonprofit!
Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring the work of nonprofits in this field and how pro bono has made a difference for them. To get the ball rolling, let’s dig a little deeper into what workforce development nonprofits have in common, how they differ, the challenges they’re facing right now, and how pro bono can help.
What services do workforce development nonprofits provide?
Workforce development programs are as unique as their founders, clients, and areas of focus, but they do have some things in common. Guidestar puts it well in their definition of the field:
“Workforce development provides skills training and opportunities for job placement within industries that may have vacancies or labor shortages. The programs typically address two needs: location-based employment or sector-based employment.”
Nonprofits built on this foundation focus their efforts on a particular skills area or population. Some even include essential wrap-around services that empower their clients, like childcare or access to government benefits. There’s no limit to the variety of resources a workforce development nonprofit can provide, but they are all focused on the key goal of lifting people up through access to employment.
Check out our profile on Stacks+Joules as an example—they’re a workforce development that focuses on providing training and certification in building automation skills.
How has the pandemic impacted these nonprofits?
Workforce development has been a vital service in the nonprofit sector since The Great Depression, but it has become even more relevant in the last few months with the massive increase in demand for employment-related services. Unfortunately, the need for workforce development services has skyrocketed while the resources nonprofits rely on have been bottoming out. Cancelled volunteer projects and fundraising events coupled with a sector-wide drop in individual giving have left nonprofits without the support they can normally count on.
The pandemic has directly altered programming too. Requests for training around remote work are now at an all-time high, something many of these nonprofits weren’t focused on providing before the pandemic hit. And previously many training and certification programs were held on-site, but safety precautions have left nonprofits with the choice between pivoting to digital or closing their doors.
How can pro bono help?
We’re so glad you asked!
Pro bono is uniquely positioned to help with the capacity-based challenges workforce development nonprofits are facing. Professional services in IT, design, and business planning are some of the top needs reported by nonprofits right now, and qualified volunteers are signing up in record numbers to help.
It’s also important to note that pro bono can be done 100% remotely. Virtual pro bono is a time-tested model that lets volunteers connect with nonprofits regardless of their respective locations. At Taproot our typical in-person events transitioned to fully virtual in March, and our online platform Taproot Plus has always been accessible for anyone with an internet connection.
Pro bono is a versatile, effective way for workforce development nonprofits to meet their business needs without dipping into dwindling budgets or sacrificing the quality of their programs. We’re proud that we can help make it as accessible as possible and will continue to uncover ways to connect with nonprofits in this essential field.