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Millions have quit their jobs or switched industries in what’s being described as the “Great Resignation.” One company hopes to become the leader in the “reskilling” sector as it connects workers to job training programs. Career Karma and its AfroLatino CEO hope to capitalize on an emerging multi-trillion dollar industry.
The pandemic laid bare long-felt disparities among working class people in the U.S. Many are now turning to micro-credentials, which are months-long training programs that allow workers to learn new skills and apply for new jobs.
Globally, people in 2019 spent $2.2 trillion on accessing the post-secondary training market, according to an analysis from HolonIQ Smart Estimates. That’s a juicy number for Ruben Harris, CEO of Career Karma. His company raised $40 million in January, which brings the total raised to $52 million since the company’s founding in 2018.
“It’s the product that we wish that we had when we were breaking into tech,” Career Karma CEO Ruben Harris told The Black Wall Street Times.
Harris and his two business partners, Artur and Timur Meyster, moved to Sillicon Valley in 2014 to launch their tech career. A podcast and four years later, they launched the Career Karma mobile app. By 2020, the company’s users had grown to 150,000.
Career Karma’s impact on Black unemployment
The need for new platforms to connect workers with job training comes as Black unemployment remains double that of White workers. Black unemployment fell to 6.9% in January, the lowest rate since the start of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. President Joe Biden celebrated the numbers.
“We are finally building an American economy for the 21st century, with the fastest economic growth in nearly four decades, along with the greatest year of job growth in American history,” Pres. Biden said near the end of January.
Yet, despite the lower numbers, they’re still higher than pre-pandemic rates and twice as high as their White counterparts. In fact, in a country that once held Black people against their will, the economy has historically kept Black unemployment at higher rates than other groups regardless of which political party or president is in power.
“We have got to do more,” White House economic aide Jared Bernstein said in January. “While that inequity has existed for some time…we don’t just accept [it] as being a facet of nature … It’s one of our mandates from the president.”
Beyond having listings of courses and programs, Career Karma stays with users throughout their journey with advice and coaching. Today, the company markets itself as the “easiest way to find a job training program online” and serves millions of users each month, according to its website.
For Harris, the goal is to “find others that are like us so that we can build power for each other.” Even as some states refuse to recognize the worth of workers, companies like Career Karma seek to put the power back in their hands.
Even flagship institutions like colleges and universities have witnessed a drop in enrollment as the pandemic upends societal structures and traditions.
Nationally, enrollment for undergraduate and graduate students declined more than 5%, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
It’s created an opening that Ruben Harris hopes to fill.
“The great resignation is a wake up call. While there has been a lot of darkness during the pandemic, the tech world has blown. We had a record funding year last year in the technology world,” Harris told TheBWSTimes. “Part of the reason we’re able to make it through this pandemic is because of technology.”
Over 3 million monthly users
Harris credits companies like zoom as being part of the shift to remote and hybrid work, along with alternative methods of learning.
“The people quitting jobs that don’t allow them to have remote work or that have kids and families and who want to be measured on output rather than hours worked are choosing to quit to learn how they can get part of the knowledge economy in tech,” Harris added.
On its site, Career Karma hosts over 400 bootcamp courses, which range from three to 12 months. It also connects workers and students to over 7,000 colleges and trade schools.
Beyond that, the app allows users to share their goals and needs so that Career Karma can recommend the best job training for them. Additionally, a community of peer mentors and coaches help users throughout their journey.
According to Harris, over 3 million users “come to us looking for guidance” each month. He wants to position Career Karma to become the front end for all job training.
Ultimately, Harris believes the Great Resignation will be a net benefit for workers “because people are voting with their feet and forcing companies to step their game up.”
To access Career Karma’s job training resources and courses, visit careerkarma.com.
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