Today’s Workforce: Reconnecting Opportunity Youth

Young people part of Opportunity Youth, decreasing youth unemployment

There are significant challenges facing our young people that consequentially cost our economy over $6 trillion. Youth unemployment is now a critical issue; sitting at about 14%, it is two times the national average and represents more than 6.7 million youth aged 16-24 (this group has become known as “Opportunity Youth”). While so many of our youth are unemployed or underemployed, employers wrestle with the skills gap and finding qualified talent to fill their vacant positions. While many business, education and political leaders are working to address each issue independently, one solution may be the answer to both problems.

Read more about Opportunity Youth and the effects on our economy in our latest white paper.

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Addressing Workforce Development in Montgomery County: An Economy at a Crossroads


“Fifteen years into the new millennium, Montgomery County finds itself at an economic crossroads. Over the last decade, even as national and regional economies suffered through a near economic depression, employers and employees in Montgomery County have continued to provide the jobs and services that have regularly made the county one of the best places in the United States to work, live, and raise a family.”

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Member Spotlight: SkillSmart’s Jason Green Solves Unemployment Issues Through New Currency.


SkillSmart helps you find your dream job. Whether you are looking to launch a career or find your fit, the company is there for you. SkillSmart is a next-generation job-placement platform that matches job seekers to employers based on skill proficiency.

Jason Green on how to find your dream jobWe caught up with Jason Green, VP of Business Development and cofounder of SkillSmart, to talk about his views on the current job market and how he stepped into the startup world after working in the White House for four years.

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Public Meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

A hearing to discuss how SkillSmart, partnering with MGM Springfield, can decrease the number of underemployed and unemployed in the Massachusetts region. Using SkillSmart, a newly constructed MGM Springfield casino and resort, can better match individual’s skills to upcoming opportunities, and connect them with training and education to increase and refine their skill sets. Watch Mike Knapp, CEO and Co-Founder of SkillSmart, testify on behalf of MGM Springfield in regard to the positive economic impact of developing in the region. More »

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MGM Springfield career fair to draw job seekers to Basketball Hall of Fame

Robert Rizzuto,

MGM Resorts International’s career fair being held at the Basketball Hall of Fame is expected to draw hundreds to downtown Springfield Wednesday, as the company eyes applicants for the 3,000 permanent jobs it is looking to create with an $800 million resort casino just a few blocks away.

The career fair kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast orientation, as Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis and MGM Resorts Vice President of Community Relations and Public Affairs Kelley Tucky are all expected to deliver remarks to the crowd. Also slated to address the applicants are executives with the SkillSmart company, which MGM is using to pair applicants with the best possible job match based on their skills and experience.

“What we are trying to do is get people to think about what skills you have acquired doing the things you did. That includes what you learned in all your jobs, whether it is managing a McDonald’s, working in a store, in the military or if you ran the social programs committee at church,” Michael Knapp, the CEO of SkillSmart previously told The Republican.

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MGM Springfield job showcase draws more than 600 to Basketball Hall of Fame

Jim Kinney,

MGM Springfield drew more than 600 job seekers to a career showcase Wednesday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The event, one in a series of MGM job fairs, came less than a month before voters will decide the fate of the Massachusetts casino industry in a statewide referendum. Signs saying  to vote no, the action that would preserve the state’s gaming law, were available at the job fair.

Michael Mathis, the president and CEO of MGM Springfield, said his company is working to defeat the ballot question while still preparing to open the casino.

“We are in pre-opening mode,” Mathis, who spent the morning at the job showcase, said. “We won’t be caught unprepared.”

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MGM Springfield brings innovative software to job seekers

by Jim Kinney,

MGM Springfield is bringing what it calls innovative job- and employee-searching technology to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Wednesday for a jobs showcase.

The showcase is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Hall of Fame on East Columbus Avenue. No one needs to bring paperwork with them, organizers say. It is necessary to register beforehand; to do so go to the showcase’s website here ».

The fair comes not only in advance of MGM Springfield’s plan to build an $800 million gambling and entertainment complex in Springfield’s South end, but also prior to the November referendum that could rescind the state’s casino law and scuttle the whole deal. Jobs provided by the casino has been a major talking point of casino boosters seeking to defeat the ballot question.

The technology is a set of computer algorithms called SkillSmart, a sort of computer program job seekers will use Wednesday at temporary kiosks set up at the Hall of Fame. SkillSmart gets employers and job seekers away from  the now-common procedure of scanning resumes into a system and then searching them for keywords to identify the best applicants, said Mike Knapp, CEO of SkillSmart which is also the name of the company.

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Officials: Cooperation Needed to Meet Jobs’ Demands

Kevin James Shay,

Education, government and business leaders must collaborate to take advantage of the region’s standing as a national leader in cyber security job openings, officials said during a meeting in Silver Spring last week.Collaboration between officials


“It’s not an opportunity, it’s a requirement. We can’t address the significant challenge ahead unless we work together,” said Jason Green, co-founder of SkillSmart, a Germantown-based business that matches job seekers and employers based on skills.

Green is a member of the regional advisory board of Per Scholas, a New York-based nonprofit organization that organized last week’s meeting and provides technology education and job placement. The group has an office in Silver Spring.

The cyber security field is changing quickly, participants said. While a recent security breach at JPMorgan Chase is one of the more publicized threats, there were about 1.5 million cyber attacks monitored in the U.S. last year, according to Per Scholas. Three-fourths of the breaches occur at smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees.

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Skills are the new currency in the workplace


Five candidates waiting for job interviews

Effectively, what all studies point to is the growing need for developing the skills employers are demanding. But even if someone sets out to pursue a “demand-driven” approach to education, it’s difficult to find a scholastic path that aligns educational offerings to employer needs. Though a simple concept, it’s not how most education providers or employers are currently designed to operate. Historically, those who hire and those who educate have not communicated effectively. It’s time to change this.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SkillSmart Part of Team Awarded Maryland EARN Grant

For-Immediate-ReleaseSkillSmart platform will be used to place skilled healthcare workers within four of the county’s healthcare systems as part of State grant over the next two years.

“SkillSmart, the next generation job placement platform that matches job seekers to employers based on skill proficiency, is partnering with Montgomery County Business Development Corporation (MBDC) to implement a 2014 EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) Grant, awarded by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Together, SkillSmart, MBDC and the other grant partners will use this grant to address the workforce skills gap, and to advance workers in the county’s healthcare sector.”

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