by Brigitte Hoarau
The words “fresh start” can lead to hope and anxiety, especially when paired with “career.” Yet 2021 brings that concept to unprecedented populations across the nation.
Take these examples:
- A mid-career individual who dreams of a career shift but doesn’t even know where to start – they are seeking to re-skill.
- A family breadwinner, whose “steady and safe” career trajectory is suddenly cut short by widespread layoffs, needs to find a promising new field of work that fits their skills and interests – they need to up-skill, and quick.
- A graduating high school senior who is unsure about pursuing the traditional four-year college path to a career that may or may not be in demand by the time they graduate, if they graduate and if they even knew for sure what career they wanted at 17 years old – they are looking at building new skills.
They are just a few of the millions of Americans in these exact same positions. Based on data from the U.S. Labor Department, between 10-20 million citizens were collecting unemployment assistance in February 2021. Finding a job amidst so many unemployed competitors is difficult enough, but finding a career in a high-demand field that doesn’t require years of education and training is daunting.
Yet we know the demand is out there. As recently as a few years ago, according to SkillPointe.com founder and former NASCAR CFO Todd Wilson, “there was already a talent shortage across several skills-based industries that are essential to keeping communities around the country moving forward.” That shortage deepened with the impacts of COVID-19 on jobs and industries nationwide. “The job market is changing before our eyes,” Wilson points out. “There are more than 2.6 million skills-based jobs that are in demand this year, so the need is tremendous and urgent.”
It was an awareness of this crossroads and a passion for helping jobseekers find good careers in targeted industries that inspired the creation of SkillPointe. Launched in February of this year, SkillPointe connects job seekers with the well-paying job opportunities that are most urgently needed in skill-based industries and the training programs that will get them there.
Through its easy-to-use online interface at SkillPointe.com, visitors are able to research professions in eight industries: construction, healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, transportation, communications, public service and energy; and learn about job functions, salary range, training required and current openings. Visitors are then able to explore SkillPointe’s database of over 50,000 training programs aligned to those targeted professions– programs that don’t require a college degree– and search over 350,000 active listings for available jobs in those fields nationwide. There are even scholarship opportunities.
“We joined the SkillPointe Platform because it allows for individuals to not only explore careers in the most in-demand jobs but also provides an avenue to connect with training for high-skill, high-demand occupations and explore available positions within the individual’s field of study. It connects job seekers with training and employment,” said Renee Stauffacher, Director, Flagler Technical College. “This comprehensive resource will also make the enrollment process easier as we use it to help us provide better customer service to our students.”
So, let’s go back to our high school senior who wants to find their own future career path. Students are sometimes provided a little guidance from overworked counseling offices to help them pick an area of interest based on their, typically very short, list of favorite subjects and activities. And then they’re most often pointed toward careers that require college degrees. It is left up to the student to research the nuances of those career paths, often leaving them ill-informed about job prospects, salary ranges and even job functions. Wilson advises those students that, “there are huge opportunities that need to be filled within skills-based industries for jobs that are stable, pay well, are projected to grow and need people now.”
SkillPointe’s Career Assessment Wizard provides users with a smart-quiz tool to determine their interests on a simple scale based on job function. After ranking their interest in performing a variety of functions such as assembling electronic parts, performing lab work, drawing pictures or studying the cause of fires, the wizard provides a summary of the user’s top three traits and a selection of potential careers that employ those traits. From there, the platform provides a quick summary for each career that helps users understand what kind of work and salary range the career entails and the training needed, leading users to make smarter decisions about pursuing that career.
Individuals looking to change careers may also benefit from dozens of news and advice articles on the site that provide insider perspectives on aspects of their fields. SkillPointe’s Opportunity Meter indicates how each job ranks according to potential salary, current openings and job security. Wilson encourages, “Being displaced by the pandemic is difficult, but it can also be an opportunity to make a relatively small investment required to switch gears and get on track with one of the high demand pathways found on SkillPointe.”
Without leaving the platform, those who discover a desired profession in one of the highlighted industries they wish to pursue can search from among 350,000 current job openings, updated daily and partially sourced from SkillPointe’s partnerships with major corporations such as The Home Depot, Cummins, Lincoln Electric and NetJets.
Among other unique features for users on the platform is the opportunity to finance training. The 501(c)(3) SkillPointe Foundation monthly awards $1,000 community college and trade school scholarships to promising career seekers. It is no wonder that the organization has gained support from business leaders such as International Speedway Corporation CEO and NASCAR Board of Directors Vice-Chairperson Lesa France Kennedy, who says that what caught her attention was that “SkillPointe is an incredible platform that not only supports individual development of high-paying trade or technical jobs, but goes one step further to provide scholarship resources that make training more affordable.”
Howard Holley, publisher of EVOLVE Magazine and CEO of TouchPoint Innovative Solutions, is a member of the team launching SkillPointe and leading its market development. He says, “When Todd Wilson first engaged me, I knew I wanted to be involved. As a former Board Member of the Daytona State College Foundation, I had seen first-hand the challenges for those seeking skills-based careers and jobs. The pandemic has created such a disruption that a transformative marketing aggregation tool such as SkillPointe, that enables finding jobs that are skills-based, in high demand, with high wages and achievable in less than 2 years, is a PERFECT solution.”
With no time to waste in moving our economy and society forward, this one-stop platform delivers fast solutions and promising futures for jobseekers not just in Florida but across the United States.
Brigitte Hoarau is an English Professor and freelance writer. She earned a BA in Film & Video and an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction.