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Atlanta one of five regions chosen to host program to help workers find good jobs

By David Pendered

A new program in metro Atlanta aims to help folks without college-grad backgrounds get good jobs. The the effort is part of a national partnership of more than 30 entities that includes the Atlanta Fed, Goodwill of North Georgia, Rework America Alliance, IBM, Google, the National Urban League and the AFL-CIO.

Northside Hospital’s campus in Canton provides stable jobs for health care providers and the construction trades during its expansion. Credit: David Pendered

The target audience is comprised of workers who have been viewed as essential during the pandemic, and who don’t earn much money – particularly women and people of color, according to the description by a key sponsor. Rework America Alliance is sponsored by the Markle Foundation, a non-profit that’s worked in the social arena since 1927.

Metro Atlanta is one of five regions in the country where partner agencies intend to help individuals who are unemployed or underemployed find a good job. A good job is defined as well compensated, stable and resilient to automation.

The program aims to go beyond counterparts that intend to teach new skills to folks searching for work. Along with help job seekers, it intends to work with businesses to advance employees who use the alliance’s resources. It also intends to help mentor those in non-profits and government job training programs who help folks advance their job skills, according to an FAQ sheet.

One early initiative of the partnership already is available to job-seekers: a toolkit to build a better resume for workers with skills outside the professional arena.

The resume program is designed specifically to help folks who do not have the educational credentials, or job titles, to get through the online filters employers set in order to cut the number of candidates. The resume program focuses on the skills job seekers do have and helps job seekers present the knowledge, skills and abilities in a form that can help them clear an initial hurdle.

Income growth has been concentrated in jobs that already were among the highest paid, according to this analysis by the National Equity Atlas, PolicyLink/USC Equity Research Institute. Credit: nationalequityatlas.org

Resume help responds to one of the labor challenges identified in a report cited by Atlanta Fed President/CEO Raphael Bostic in a May 6 presentation. While discussing ways to speed changes intended to enhance economic inclusion, Bostic cited a report that observes:

  • “There is a growing consensus that many occupations that often require a bachelor’s degree simply should not do so – especially as the pace of technological change means that the skills and knowledge accrued through a formal education are quickly outmoded in the workplace.”

However, the lack of a college degree is a major barrier to employment for the 70% of U.S. workers who don’t have a degree, according to a description by the Rework America Alliance.

The Atlanta Fed’s involvement marks Bostic’s continued commitment to take specific steps to broaden economic opportunities in the era following the murder of George Floyd. Bostic was an early advocate of broader opportunities and released, in June 2020, a letter that became an influential call for the nation to address the economic legacy of racism.

In Bostic’s May 6 remarks, this is how he described the newly announced program:

Raphael Bostic

Raphael Bostic

  • “I’m particularly excited about one of our newest of this type of partnership, which is focused on workforce development.
  • “It’s called the Rework America Alliance. Along with the Markle Foundation and a host of corporations, nonprofits, and other organizations, we have set out to harmonize the nation’s sprawling but disjointed workforce development system. The alliance’s purpose reflects the fundamental aim of our economic mobility and resilience agenda more broadly: to minimize the number of people left behind as the economy evolves.
  • “Rework America aims to unite nonprofits, government, and private-sector firms in creating ready pathways for workers to upgrade skills and stay employed as automation and other forces disrupt the labor market.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Renarda Cager May 13, 2021 9:12 am

    This is an awesome initiative. Thank youReport

  2. Eleanor Smith May 14, 2021 12:02 pm

    A crucial step for opening the job market to excellent employees without college degrees is to remove the current requirement for degrees from a great many positions. State and local governments are a good place to start. For example, I worked for the State of Georgia a year as a case worker in the food stamps program, and then for five years as a case worker in the Department of Vocation Rehabilitation. Both positions required a college degree. (I have a master’s degree as well). The work in neither position required a college education. What were required were basic intelligence; literacy and basic writing skills; good judgment; and good people skills. We all know that these qualities and abilities exist in abundance among many people who have not gone to college. It would be entirely possible to develop interview processes that screen applicants to determine these qualities and abilities.
    I’m not suggesting that it would be easy to remove the entrenched college requirement from this type of government job, and similar non-government jobs. There would be intense push-back. But I am saying that the requirement is unjust and irrelevant in a great many cases and that systematically rectifying this would go a long way to redressing the lack of good-paying jobs for a host of intelligent, mature peopleReport


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