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CareerPath Mobile LLC helps bridge the gap between career seekers and employers, by building innovative tools that educate, inform, and enable career confidence. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company underwent a strategic pivot to better serve the marketplace. Founder/CEO Rich Portelance checked in with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price to provide an update.

NAN PRICE: We’ve gotten to know about your company over the years, first when you were participating in the 2017 reSET Impact Accelerator and then, in fall 2019, when we discussed your progress. Now, you have another update. What’s new?

RICHARD PORTELANCE: CareerPath has shifted our focus to workforce solutions. While we still have clients in the higher education space, we found that our technology is a perfect solution to connect students and dislocated workers to pathway opportunities leading to employment. Within that continuum, we engage with high schools, community colleges, workforce agencies, and employers.

CareerPath was designed as a mobile engagement toolkit that enables students to progress through customized sets of skill learning and training programs, such as educational modules for financial literacy, creative problem solving, or career-specific skills for manufacturing or healthcare. So, it made sense to pivot toward the user base that has the greatest need.

Even before COVID-19 crashed into our lives, younger people in community colleges and high schools, along with dislocated workers, were searching to find a career path, get on that path quickly, and achieve a positive outcome. Now, the need has been heightened and there will be a focus on rehiring the right workers, those with proper skill training, when the fog lifts and people are able to go back to work.

As we started to move toward workforce, we signed up Michigan Works! Southeast, a workforce agency outside of Detroit, and started to work with them on engaging dislocated workers. That project has gone very successfully.

Back here in Connecticut, we began a relationship with Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board (NRWIB) in March. We’re excited to be working with Executive Director Catherine Awwad and her team to help to connect and lead dislocated workers and students through a structured manufacturing readiness program.

NAN: CareerPath is focusing more on meeting workforce needs, which will be especially important once the economy returns to the “new normal.”

RICHARD: Everything has changed as a result of the pandemic, and we’re finding ourselves absolutely in the middle of a needs-based situation. Places like NRWIB can no longer have people walk into their job centers. As a result, programs like ours that can engage people remotely have become essential. There will be an economic rebound, and those who took the time to prepare themselves during the crisis will be ready to return to or enter the workforce. CareerPath is there to assist them.

For us, the next stage of growth involves engaging employers to help them start thinking about their hiring requirements from a skills perspective and focus solutions on what they’re missing. So, when they are ready to rehire, they are rehiring the right people with the right skills.

We call our process of preparing job seekers the “longtail recruitment pipeline”—helping employers hire more prepared workers, workforce boards make better connections, and students or dislocated workers understand employers’ requirements. That’s the paradigm we’re creating. We see it working in any industry sector over time. Right now, our focus is those sectors with the most needs here in Connecticut, which are manufacturing and healthcare.

NAN: Are you having success making connections within the industries you seek to serve?

RICHARD: We’ve been working on building those connections. We’ve been working with East Hartford high school principal Matt Ryan to create a career and college readiness program for his students. Eventually, programs like Principal Ryan’s will connect with the work we are doing with workforce boards like NRWIB.

We’re also in conversations with people like Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT) President and CEO Ron Angelo and Nerac, Inc. President Kevin Bouley, who has offered to make additional introductions. By leveraging our network, attending meetings (when that was a thing you could do!), and having conversations like this one, we’re expanding our influence and connecting with anyone who is either in the position to train the workforce or hire people into the workforce here in Connecticut.

Our short-term goal is to get in touch with as many people in industry as possible who will have a need to rehire in a couple of months. We want to ensure we’re engaging with them because, over time, we can help them rehire better. We see this process starting now and growing into a human capital forecasting solution, where CareerPath will enable human resources teams to see into the future what their hyper-local network looks like, how many potential candidates are entering the pipeline, and the development of those candidates over time, until they become ready for a job offer.

NAN: How exactly does CareerPath help participants skill up for the workforce?

RICHARD: CareerPath presents pathways in a simple to understand, micro-learning format. The system is customizable and helps training programs and schools segment students and dislocated workers into different groups based on their skills and their learning interests. We can also signpost multiple channels in the system. So, while a person is actively working in something like a manufacturing training program, they can also partake in programs for financial literacy or basic skill building to help with their employability. Built-in assessments also help direct participants down paths that make the most sense for their interests and aptitudes.

Candidates can access multiple channels, allowing them to complete various microlearning modules. Then, at the right time, we open access to employer-specific skill development modules so each candidate can review the requirements of the employers signed up within CareerPath, determine which is a good fit, and then go down that employer’s pathway.

All those things can happen in parallel. We track completion and offer badging and incentives along the way. The activity helps to build the candidates’ readiness profile over time. It also helps us get a good sense of each individual’s capabilities, what they want to do, and what they’re trained to do. Then, when they’re presented to employers, they have a profile that’s better than a resume because it includes all the data about what they’ve done to build their skills and prepare for those jobs.

To help speed time to market, we’re actively building partnerships with companies with complimentary tools like assessments and content providers to improve the overall experience and rigor of learning we build into the program.

NAN: How does all this help Connecticut’s economy?

RICHARD: By leveraging the workforce boards’ existing network of schools, training centers, and employers, CareerPath is helping engage that community in a new, refined, and focused way. By stimulating a better training to work paradigm, using digital technology, we’re going to help employers hire better and help job seekers find more fitting opportunities. This two-sided solution will decrease recruitment costs, increase employee retention, and reduce the time needed to fill the state’s employee shortage gap.

Connecticut must find ways to keep manufacturers here in the state, and that means building a better and fuller pipeline of talent they can hire. That’s exactly what CareerPath seeks to accomplish.

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