While higher education is still seen as the primary path to professional success and economic stability, there are inequities in economic benefits among some categories of college graduates, particularly female and Black graduates, a report shows.
For many of those marginalized students, the high cost of education may not have been worth it. And for those who can’t afford college, the obstacles on a career path are often greater.
But inequities in career results are experienced by both groups, and barriers to entry, for a variety of reasons, into high-potential, high-paying jobs are often the problem, says Richard Walker, CEO of York Solutions, a consulting firm that custom trains and places IT professionals while offering a wider candidate pool to companies.
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“There is a massively overlooked, highly diverse talent pool of skilled workers,” says Walker, whose company created a “Barriers to Entry” program (B2E) six years ago to help people overcome barriers to employment and career growth. “The families that have financial means for college are at the top of the pyramid, but as you get to the bottom of the pyramid and those who don’t have access, many of them have the talent to be highly successful.
“Many just need access and the opportunity to break the poverty cycle.”
But Walker says it’s not just the financial barrier that’s preventing people from using their talents and reaching their earning potential; it’s companies themselves whose hiring practices reflect “an antiquated system.” Many companies prefer or require a college degree for their job candidates, but Walker says lots of talented people are not inclined to traditional academic learning.
“It’s a broken system; companies focus too much on the resume and look at what people have done in the past, rather than look at what people are capable of doing,” he says. “Problem-solving and critical thinking, for example, are difficult to ascertain in a typical job interview and often not readily apparent on a resume.”
Tips For Job Seekers To Break Through Barriers
Walker offers these ways to help job seekers break through barriers and get the opportunities their talents and potential merit:
Career Readiness Programs
These play an important role in sourcing talent, providing a means of identifying key skills and abilities. Walker says career readiness programs are a good alternative to higher education for those who can’t afford it, and also a solid complement to a college degree.
“Career readiness programs help high school and college students find jobs without going into debt, shepherding them into positions that will allow them to attain financial stability, learn and quickly apply their new skills,” he says. “Those skills gained from these programs include the soft skills that will help them succeed in the workplace – collaborating, problem-solving, and communicating.”
Given the tech talent shortage, tech training programs are a big benefit to companies struggling to find enough college graduates who fit their needs. Walker says companies are limiting their talent pool by requiring four-year degrees for tech work, and tech programs “broaden that pool by tapping into emerging talent and developing it.
Consultancies that focus on tech training work in concert with companies, customizing the training to mirror the project teams at those companies. It’s a win-win for job seekers and the businesses needing an influx of high-potential talent.”
Job Search Assistance Programs
Programs focused on reducing job search barriers often improve job seekers’ employment success. “These programs can help job seekers improve their search, identify where and how to look for jobs, and communicate qualifications to employers,” Walker says. “Some job seekers underestimate the benefits of job searching, but helping them better understand their own abilities helps them be more selective in their search.”
“Our experience often has been that people who discovered and/or developed their talents in a career-path program outperformed those with four-year degrees,” Walker says. “Why? One, they had something to prove. Two, they learned how to jump over obstacles. And three, they got the opportunity they deserved.”
About Richard Walker
Richard Walker is the CEO of York Solutions, an IT consulting firm that uses a non-transactional, values-based approach to provide clients with custom workforce solutions to achieve business, technology, and operational goals.