Notes From the Field: Department of Labor's TAACCCT Grant Program Sparks Innovation in Middle Skilled Careers

Viridis Learning is one example of how the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program is promoting innovation in adult and higher education.  Viridis aims to be a one-stop shop serving students, schools and employers by connecting community colleges with local employers to understand in demand opportunities and skills in the workplace. With this knowledge, colleges are able to map existing programs and classes to specific career opportunities. This pathway data is available in an online portal, where they students research nearby job opportunities and learn what courses they need to enter and advance in the job marketplace.  Viridis' market is middle-skilled careers that pay $35,000 a year, or greater.  Funding for the platform came partially from a TAACCCT grant that supports job-training programs.

As students enroll and complete courses, they earn digital badges that academic counselors and recruiters can see.  Viridis reaches out to potential employers through regional economic development corporations and local chambers of commerce. The company reports more than 220,000 jobs nationwide on its platform, which it shares with community college partners. “All these players are excited about an integrated data ecosystem because employers need a supply chain of talent, and community colleges need to understand where their students are going post-graduation,” Viridis CEO, Felix Ortiz.

 Currently 20 community college districts are using the Virdis platform.  A recent EdSurge article highlights the experience of Dallas County Community College District (DCCD) in using Viridis. 

Perhaps the most critical component of the tool is the ability to keep track of students’ progress and reach out when needed, says Joyce Williams, Associate Vice Chancellor of Workforce and Community Initiatives at DCCD, which serves more than 80,000 students across Texas. DCCD has worked with Viridis to map four career pathway programs—logistics, pharmacy technician, automotive and veteran employment initiatives. (Some companies specifically aim to hire veterans).

Unexpected things in “life often happen for community college students,” says Williams. “They often say say they’re coming back, but some never do. But if we can catch them and let them know that the jobs are still here for you, that we’re still here, that can make a difference.”

Where is Viridis being used?  Check out the 20 colleges and universities who are currently using the platform.  If your institution is on the list, please consider sharing your anecdotal evidence and experiences with us.

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator