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Matching People, Jobs

'We are working to create career pathways across the country that are based on competencies,' Innocate+Educate CEO Jamai Blivin told ABQ Free Press.

A New Mexico nonprofit that helps job seekers with skills, but no college degrees or other credentials find work has gotten $400,000 in grants to continue its work.

Innovate+Educate received $200,000 from the Albuquerque City Council last week, which was then matched with $200,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation. The money will be used to help companies and job seekers with skills find each other, said Innovate+Educate founder and CEO Jamai Blivin. “We are working to create career pathways across the country that are based on competencies,” Blivin told ABQ Free Press Monday.

The Santa Fe nonprofit’s mission is not only to help job seekers with skills but no credentials to find jobs, but to help companies rework their screening and hiring processes so they don’t miss people with the skills they need because they’re too focused on credentials. Innovate has worked with the ACT organization to develop an assessment that rates a person’s core job skills. It covers 95 percent of all the jobs in the U.S., Blivin said.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has established 32 Skill-Up centers around the city where job seekers can discover what skills they have and what skills they’ll need for certain jobs. “The sites will continue to train people on what skills they are lacking for a certain job and how they can get those skills,” Blivin said.

“We very much appreciate the people who’ve had the time and money to navigate the four-year educational system [college], but a lot of people haven’t been able to and that doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills,” Blivin added. “A lot of young people have skills but they’re not being seen [by employers] because they don’t have the credentials.”

Innovate+Educate recently got a $1 million grant from Wal-Mart to develop a similar program in Texas, Blivin said. She added that Albuquerque’s program, Talent ABQ, has gotten national attention and is becoming the model for such programs.

— Dennis Domrzalski

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.
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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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