JPMorgan Chase has announced a five-year, $250 million initiative to bolster workforce readiness by closing the skills gap in major urban areas in the United States and Europe.
Through research and data analysis, public-private partnerships, and engagement with local communities, the New Skills at Work initiative will address the shortage of trained workers who have the specific skills needed to fill available jobs in industries such as health care and advanced manufacturing. Specific grants and partnerships will be announced in early 2014, with an initial focus on Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and London.
According to an analysis by the International Monetary Fund, the skills gap accounts for approximately one-third of the U.S. unemployment rate. The initiative will provide data about local employer demand with the goal of informing strategic workforce planning and the development of targeted training programs by organizations such as the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, the Institute for Public Policy Research in London, the National Academy Foundation in New York City, Jobs for the Future, London-based Participle, Year Up, and YouthBuild U.S.A.
"Our work with JPMorgan Chase is vitally important to the future success of America's workforce," said Steve Patrick, executive director of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. "In our country, six-point-eight million young people graduate high school unprepared to meet the needs of a twenty-first-century economy, and with this new initiative, we can create the capacity to drive solutions that connect youth to careers vital to America's growth."
The initiative is being launched at a time when JPMorgan Chase is facing unprecedented fines for and investigations of its mortgage securities and hiring practices in China, as well as its links to convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff, the New York Times reports. JPMorgan Chase chair and CEO Jamie Dimon, who will co-chair the JPMorgan Chase Global Workforce Advisory Council with Melody Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, dismissed any connection between the announcement and the bank's recent troubles. "[F]or a hundred years, for two hundred years," Dimon told the Times, "[JPMorgan Chase] has...tried to be a great community citizen."