September 23, 2020

Building a More Inclusive Talent Marketplace: Increasing Opportunity Through Community and Business-Led Initiatives

T3 Network Opportunity Populations Report

The U.S. Chamber Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. This effort includes educating the public on the conditions necessary for businesses and communities to thrive while highlighting emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future. This report addresses the potential roles of these initiatives in supporting opportunity populations and the workforce organizations that serve them. Based on interviews with organizations that serve opportunity populations, this report provides guidance to help stakeholders and communities understand emerging technologies that can support individuals in navigating the labor market. Recommendations are intended to promote useful technologies, processes, partnerships, and governance strategies without constructing or perpetuating barriers to opportunity.

“Opportunity populations” refers to people who have had limited access to educational and professional opportunities and who face barriers to employment and career advancement. They may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Opportunity youth (young adults ages 17 to 24 who are out of school or out of work)
  • Members of the LGBTQ community
  • Members of immigrant or refugee populations
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals
  • Members of indigenous communities
  • People with disabilities (physical and/or cognitive)
  • People without a high school diploma
  • People with limited English proficiency
  • People who are (or who have been) homeless

The vision for this report is rooted in the belief that hiring could be less biased and more inclusive if we succeed in orienting hiring practices around skills instead of proxies or pedigrees. To meaningfully alter hiring practices, stakeholders must commit to cultural and practical shifts that reorient the workforce ecosystem toward a more holistic understanding of opportunity seekers’ unique barriers and strengths, competency-based hiring, and incremental changes undertaken by all stakeholders. 

The report covers three focus areas:

  • Barriers to Employment
  • Labor Market Design for Opportunity Populations
  • Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Employment

Learn about our Workforce initiatives