New workforce development initiative to reduce the skills gap in Orange County
UpSkill OC: An innovative, collaborative approach to bridging the skills gap for livable wage jobs in Orange County. Find out how to get involved.
UpSkill OC is an Orange County United Way initiative providing recently homeless and housing insecure OC residents with a path to sustainable employment in middle skills careers, particularly in the IT and Healthcare industries. Through job training programs, coaching and community-based support services, UpSkill OC is bridging the gap between the growing number of job openings and newly trained candidates ready to fill these middle-wage jobs—jobs that will contribute greatly to their overall family stability.
Our Ultimate Goal
United Way’s UpSkill OC program supports underemployed and unemployed adults as they move from unemployment or low-wage positions into long-term, livable wage, middle-skill occupations. These middle-wage jobs require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.
UpSkill OC directly connects qualified candidates to training, support and middle-skills jobs by partnering with local nonprofits and the business community. The program ensures a strong job pipeline that matches the needs of the employer with trained candidates. By focusing on two of the largest middle-skills job sectors in Orange County in particular—healthcare and information technology—UpSkill OC reduces the gap between the number of job openings and the number individuals ready to fill those positions.
Our Roadmap for Success
- Recently re-housed individuals are provided with the support and training needed to secure long-term, financially sustainable employment.
- Communication among nonprofit partners is opened, allowing for efficient, streamlined delivery of services to match the expanding capacity of employers.
- Training programs are developed in partnership with nonprofits and employers to ensure alignment with the greatest corporate need.
- Underemployed and unemployed adultsare hired—and are able to retain better paying jobs!
Levels of Support
UpSkill OC helps individuals navigate their employment journey from unemployment or low-wage positions to secure, middle-skills careers. Our partners provide different levels of engagement and support, each based on need and capacity.
- Individualized assessment ofparticipants with commitment plan.
- Personalized workforce development coaching.
- Tailored training of all skills.
- Finding and securing living-wage employment.
UpSkill OC: The Correlation Between Housing and Income
In Orange County, data shows that an entry-level job simply does not pay enough for an individual or their family to secure a single family home. In fact, a wage earner must make at least $27.62 an hour to afford even a median-priced one-bedroom apartment. UpSkill OC addresses this challenge by supporting job seekers in attaining living wage jobs that pay at least $65,000 -$80,000 annually.
Income & Housing Connection
Median price for a Single Family Home in OC
- 68% of OC jobs that pay less than $27.62
- $39,769/year Median annual salary or $19.12/hour wage in OC for ALL occupations
The Burgeoning Need for Middle-Skills Employees
As middle-skills job openings continue to grow in Orange County, employers are challenged at finding qualified candidates. UpSkill OC directly addresses this issue by supporting customized training and workforce development services that align middle-skill occupations directly with a businesses’ needs.
- 45% of HR managers report difficulty finding qualified candidates for open positions
- 68% of employers believe recent graduates are not ready for work
- 45% of US employers cite lack of skills as the main reason for entry-level vacancies
Our Focus: Healthcare & IT Jobs
During our pilot year, UpSkill OC is focused on two specific industries that represent a significant number of middle skills job occupations in Orange County, as well as cross-cutting businesses that provide a significant number of middle skills positions.
Information Technology Jobs
- Information technology (IT) is one of the largest cross-cutting sectors in the labor market.
- Levels of compensation are frequently far higher than the median level, even within skills occupations. The median salary is roughly $67,000.
- Most Orange County IT occupations will experience significant growth, making this a prime industry to invest in and foster now.
- Current job openings compared to the number of degrees conferred in the area of IT indicates more employer demand for talent than is currently being supplied by traditional institutions.
Examples of Middle-Skills Job Occupations in IT
- Middle-skills openings in healthcare have increased by slightly over 56% from 2014 to 2017. 2016 and 2017 have seen a steady number of openings at around 22,000.
- 1 out of 10 workers in Orange County is employed in the healthcare sector.
- There are growing connections between healthcare and information technology, creating unique middle-skills jobs. These will need tailored training that transforms with industry.
- Outside of registered nurses, most educational requirements are below abachelor’s degree.
Examples of Middle-Skills Job Occupations in Healthcare
- Active, engaged businesses with a progressive approach to hiring
- Businesses with a significant number of middle-skill positions that have clear upward mobility career paths
- Businesses that are struggling to find qualified candidates and are ready and willing to take the lead in training!
Three Levels of Business Engagement
Develop a pathway and “career profile” for middle-skills jobs
Dedicate a staff member to participate in UpSkill OC activities and quarterly Advisory Council meetings
Allow a trained and qualified middle-skills employee to compete for a middle skills job
- UpSkill OC Ambassador
Provide industry recommendations and insights
Provide on-site job tours, speakers and mock interviews and participate in quarterly Advisory Council meetings
Interest in allowing a trained and qualified middle-skills employee to compete for a middle-skills job
- UpSkill OC Ambassador
Serve as a trusted advisor
Attend quarterly Advisory Council meetings
Provide input on hiring needs, skills, and competencies
UpSkill OC Ambassador
Our Dedicated Partners
Rapid Rehousing Partners
Our Rapid Rehousing Partners work every day with individuals who have recently experienced homelessness or housing insecurity. These hard-working individuals are ready to secure a career that enables them to provide a stable home for themselves and their families. Using a customized assessment tool, our Rapid Rehousing partners identify prospective candidates for UpSkill OC and recommend these individuals to UpSkill OC’s Workforce Navigator. Our Rapid Rehousing Partners:
- Families Forward
- Project Hope Alliance
- Serving People in Need
- Mercy House
Workforce Navigator Partner
Our Workforce Navigator plays a key role in aligning the needs of the IT or Healthcare job seeker with the needs of our business partners. The Workforce Navigator identifies the required training along with the success factors as defined by the business partner. Each job candidate is then provided with the customized employee training programs they need (either internal or external) to prepare them for success in a middle-skill occupation with one of our partner businesses. Big thank you to our partner:
- WHW, formerly known as Women Helping Women
Our valuable, dedicated business partners help UpSkill OC stay relevant and industry aligned, as well as are ready to hire our newly trained UpSkill OC candidates! Thank you to the businesses supporting our work:
- Orange County Transportation Authority
- Kaiser Permanente
- G&C Technical Services
- Echo Media Group
- Compunet Integrated Solutions, Inc.