The Power of Partnerships: Nonprofits join forces to help workers retool for new industries – and new careers

Virtual group career coaching brings a new tool to transitioning workers 

As the pandemic took hold in the spring of 2020, restaurants, shops and other businesses shuttered across the nation, leaving millions of workers unemployed. Now almost two years later, while the economy has returned to pre-pandemic employment levels, millions of jobs are unfilled — and millions of workers are seeking new career paths. That’s where an innovative partnership between SkillUp and InsideTrack comes in.

Helping workers regain their footing 

Launched in July of 2020, the SkillUp Coalition is a nonprofit that helps workers pivot into career paths in high-growth, in-demand industries. The SkillUp Coalition is a network of partners that includes national workforce development organizations, universities and employers. To further their efforts and increase their impact, InsideTrack was engaged in September 2020 to offer career coaching in a range of formats, across multiple digital platforms.

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, an estimated 17 million US workers — 28% more than expected prior to the pandemic — could be forced to change careers by 2030 because their jobs have permanently disappeared. Women, people of color, and workers with less education are the most likely to be displaced, and therefore need retraining to help them get the skills they need to change careers.

Innovation in challenging times

InsideTrack coaching is typically one-on-one, focusing on the individual learner’s specific situation and needs. Group coaching, on the other hand, is focused on a specific topic (such as building career skills) and can be delivered to a larger group all at once. Combining the two is another example of how we continue to innovate, engaging with partners to create custom solutions that work. And the results have been impressive.

The cornerstone of our partnership with SkillUp has been high-impact group coaching sessions delivered via Zoom. InsideTrack provided 27 coaching sessions, each lasting 60 to 90 minutes, with 25 to 40 participants per session from across the country. We also hosted three sessions for job seekers from specific areas of the country, including Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. Through these small group coaching sessions, career changers focus on topics such as identifying transferable skills, maximizing the job search, interviewing, building career confidence, and developing a growth mindset. There was also a special session where participants had the opportunity to ask a hiring manager how to navigate difficult interview questions.

Additional resources to help career transition

In order to further help workers navigate these challenging career transitions, the SkillUp-InsideTrack partnership has also created a suite of career services and resources — everything from shorter, live-streamed individual coaching sessions on Instagram to a private Facebook group where participants can ask InsideTrack coaches questions.

“To support a more inclusive and equitable economic recovery, we need to empower workers with the knowledge, confidence and transferable skill sets they need as they up- and re-skill for new careers in this new economy,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “This work is about identifying new ways to serve workers in hard-hit industries — delivering the sort of individualized support services they need in convenient, easily accessible, and flexible formats.”

Measurable results, noticeable impact

To date, more than 800 career changers have attended a live coaching session with InsideTrack, and another 2,000-plus have accessed recorded sessions.

Initial data shows that these sessions have been highly effective, with participants rating the first five sessions an average score of 8.3 out of 10. The coaching sessions also increased their impact and effectiveness over time, as the average score for the sessions increased to 8.7 after one year, and participants’ self-reported increases in skill rose 2.2 points on the same 10-point scale. Among all the topics covered, participants said that InsideTrack’s coaching on interviewing (rated 9.7 on average) and building career skills (9.1 average score) were particularly beneficial.

“In this new-look labor market, we need to find accessible and creative ways to help high-potential workers regain their career footing in a fast-changing economy,” notes Steve Lee, executive director of SkillUp Coalition. “These promising results demonstrate the impact that virtual coaching can have across a wide range of formats.”

Adding even more to the mix in year two 

Following the success of the first year, SkillUp renewed the partnership with InsideTrack for another year, which began in August of 2021.

Plans for the year include 51 weekly group career coaching sessions, with a group coaching curriculum that lasts approximately three months. These interactive sessions will be conducted over Zoom. In addition, there will be six smaller group coaching sessions throughout the year that target a specific local population — each customized to the local job market and needs. Instagram Live group career coaching sessions will be held quarterly, with the first 60 minutes focused on developing career advancement skills and the last 30 minutes focused on answering participants’ questions. And the “Ask a Career Coach” program will continue to grow.

Support that’s making a difference

Many of the jobs that have gone away during the pandemic are never coming back. Yet there is good news too. Because unemployment remains at low, pre-pandemic levels, many workers are using this opportunity to reskill and upskill, looking for more in-demand positions with greater stability and earning power. The partnership between SkillUp and InsideTrack has shown that we can deliver our proven coaching methodology in new and exciting ways, helping support workers in achieving their career goals — even during these uncertain, unpredictable times.


Want to learn more about our work supporting lifelong learning and upskilling/reskilling? 

Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust provides a continuing education and skills benefit for employees of Kaiser Permanente. But going back to school to upskill or earn a degree while working requires support — including one-on-one coaching. Hear from a senior leader on the importance of this employer workforce program – watch the video here on YouTube.

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