Nonprofits Team Up to Help Workers in Transition Retool for New Industries Through Virtual Group Career Coaching

Skillup Coalition Announces Results From a Pilot Program With Insidetrack Designed to Provide Virtual Career Coaching to Help Displaced Workers Reskill and Change Careers

SkillUp Coalition, a nonprofit that helps workers pivot into career paths in high-growth industries, released initial results from the first year of an ambitious partnership to provide career coaching and exploration tools for workers in transition. In collaboration with the student success nonprofit InsideTrack, the nonprofit organization has pioneered a new model of group career coaching, with data showing the service is highly effective in helping unemployed workers navigate the complex, often confusing process of retooling for new career paths.


“Even as our economy returns to pre-pandemic employment levels and a tightening labor market, there are millions of workers still in the process of charting a new career path to new and in many cases unfamiliar industries,” said Steve Lee, executive director of SkillUp Coalition. “In this new-look labor market, we need to find accessible and creative ways to help high-potential workers regain their career footing in a fast-changing economy. These promising results demonstrate the impact that virtual career coaching can have across a wide range of formats.”

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Research by McKinsey estimates that 17 million U.S. workers—28% more than expected before the pandemic—could be forced to change careers by 2030 because their jobs have permanently disappeared. Women, people of color, and workers with less education are particularly likely to be displaced and therefore need retraining to help them change careers.

The SkillUp Coalition launched in July 2020, as millions of workers were facing job losses or furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a broad network of coalition partners that includes national workforce development organizations, universities, and employers, the coalition has provided career and training support to over half a million workers to date.

As part of those efforts, SkillUp engaged InsideTrack in September 2020 to offer career coaching in a range of formats and across multiple digital platforms. To date, more than 800 career changers have attended a live coaching session through the coaching partnership with InsideTrack, and over 2000 more career changers have accessed recorded sessions.

The cornerstone of the partnership’s coaching work has been high-impact group coaching sessions delivered via Zoom. InsideTrack has provided 27 sessions, each lasting 60 to 90 minutes, with 25 to 40 participants per session from across the country. It has also hosted three sessions for job seekers from specific areas of the country, including Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Through small group coaching sessions, career changers focus on topics such as identifying transferable skills, maximizing the job search, interviewing, building career confidence and developing a growth mindset. There was also a special session where the audience had the opportunity to ask a hiring manager how to navigate difficult interview questions.

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Initial data compiled by InsideTrack’s research and evaluation team found that the sessions have been highly effective, with participants rating the first five sessions an average score of 8.3 on a 10-point scale. The coaching sessions also increased in impact and effectiveness over time, data show, as the average score for the sessions increased to 8.7 after one year and participants’ self-reported increases in skill rose by 2.2 points on a 10-point scale. Among all of the topics covered, participants said that InsideTrack’s coaching on interviewing (9.7 average score) and building career skills (9.1) was particularly beneficial.

As part of a suite of career services and resources designed to help workers navigate these challenging career transitions, the SkillUp-InsideTrack partnership has also live streamed shorter individual coaching sessions on Instagram, created a private Facebook group for career changers to ask questions to InsideTrack coaches, and provided bi-weekly coaching for career changers who are part of SkillUp’s Career Builder Advisory Board.

“To support a more inclusive and equitable economic recovery, we need to empower workers with the knowledge, confidence, and transferable skill sets they need as they up- and re-skill for new careers and achieve their professional aspirations in this new economy,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “This work is about identifying new ways to serve workers concentrated in hard-hit industries—delivering the sort of individualized support services they need in convenient, easily accessible, and flexible formats.”

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