The pivot to online programming was forced on all of us this March. At Opportunity Junction, this meant quickly developing the infrastructure to deliver training, career counseling, and employer introductions over the Internet. We're committed to studying the outcomes of these involuntary experiments.
Massive online open courses (MOOCs) have been around for years. Some courses are richly designed, with well-produced videos and tested curricula that translate well. However, most employers need staff members with interpersonal skills that can't be taught that way.
But since we can't be together in person, can we develop an administrative careers online training that nurtures the relationships we consider to be our "secret sauce" and that effectively teaches the full range of soft skills valued in the work world?
We are evaluating the extent to which the online Administrative Careers Training program can meet that challenge. The graduation rates for our first all-online class was 10% lower, but that's understandable when you consider the childcare and remote school challenges many of our students are facing.
We're now recruiting for our second all-online class, and demand is through the roof. In just the first of three scheduled weeks of application sessions, we have had more than 90 Contra Costa residents attend over Zoom. Job seekers from San Francisco, San Diego, and even Sweden have inquired about participating.
We are not ready to expand our geographic reach beyond Contra Costa yet. We continue to prioritize the East and Central Contra Costa residents we would normally serve in person. However, if our forced experiment results in a comprehensive, intensive job training program that can effectively delivered remotely, we will seek funding to expand our services. We would love to be able to serve our neighbors to the North (Solano County) and East (San Joaquin), as well as continuing to serve those in Contra Costa who can't easily travel to Antioch every day.
Want to know about the needs of our community during the pandemic. Watch our short webinar reporting on the results of our surveys of current job seekers and alumni.