The solution might be closer than it seems. One under-tapped talent pool is the nation’s community colleges. These educational institutions are anchors of their local communities as well as centers of mobility and innovation. And the students there are hungry for opportunity. They can help solve the labor shortage crisis.
Armed with this knowledge, Goldman Sachs recently teamed up with community colleges in four cities, including LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York, to create a pilot program that will provide hardworking students with internships paying $20 per hour. Students will be placed with small business owners who have completed 10,000 Small Businesses, Goldman Sachs’ business leadership and education program. These internships will give students work experience in their field of study and drive growth for participating businesses — a win-win for both.
We recently got the chance to meet with a few of the students at LaGuardia who will be working with business owners over the next several months. Their stories are inspiring. Waad Rabbani, a Bangladeshi immigrant, is studying to be an accountant, and Ana Pena, a mother of two, started her own cleaning company before deciding to pursue a degree in accounting.
We’re working with a diverse talent pool of 135 students this semester: 45% are African-American and 23% are Asian. And 56% of them are first-generation college students, while 40% have no prior work experience in their chosen field of interest.
These students are ready to work hard and live the American dream, but they need opportunity, and small businesses need talent to grow. We believe this pilot program is an example of how major corporations can use their platforms to help members of their communities connect and solve common challenges.
We all have a role to play in solving the challenges created by the pandemic. We believe crucial on-the-job training like this can help solve the labor crunch. But most importantly, we hope it will spark a reimagining of our workforce that builds a more dynamic and inclusive economy.