Black unemployment rate will drop in shift to skills-first hiring: OneTen CEO

OneTen plans to focus its efforts in cities with high demand for workers, such as New York, Miami, Chicago and Dallas

OneTen, a CEO-led coalition looking to train, hire and advance one million Black Americans without a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs over the next ten years, has been working around the clock to close the racial wealth gap and help break down barriers to entering the workforce 

In order to achieve its ambitious goal, CEO Maurice Jones told FOX Business it will continue to expand its coalition of member companies and talent developers and focus its talent development efforts on cities with high demand for workers, such as New York, Miami, Chicago and Dallas.  

"I call it space, place and pace," Jones said. "We've got to have the right people equipped for the right jobs, we've got to match them where those jobs are located geographically and we need the right volume at the right time for the demand."

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He emphasized that education and skills development is a lifelong journey that should not be limited to a four-year degree. According to OneTen's annual report, 71% of jobs with salaries above $40,000 and 79% of jobs with salaries above $60,000 require a four-year degree. However, about 76% of Black Americans lack a degree. 

"Just because you don't have a four-year degree today does not mean you won't go on to get one when that time is right for you," Jones added. "So we have to help Black talent also really put themselves out there and find those quick places to get equipped, so they can get into a job and continue to develop after that." 

Black unemployment rate

The Black unemployment rate fell from 7.1% to 6.9% in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  (iStock / iStock)

In January, the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs, blowing past Wall Street expectations. The Black unemployment rate fell from 7.1% to 6.9% in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, still, well above the 4% national average.

OneTen believes a sustainable way to help lower the unemployment rate is by shifting companies' mindsets to a skills-first hiring approach.

"You still have companies that have the overwhelming bulk of their jobs requiring a certain credential as a gateway. It's not really related to the skills," Jones explained. "So we've got to do more working with companies to eliminate these barriers to employment that are unrelated to whether a person has skills to do the work." 

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The organization says it helped in the hiring of 20,000 and the promotion of between 4,000 and 5,000 Black workers across all industries from March to December 2021. 

Since OneTen's launch in December 2020, the organization has partnered with nearly 100 talent developers and around 65 member companies, including Berkshire Hathaway, Nike, Walmart, Target, Verizon, AT&T, General Motors, Delta Airlines, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BRK.A BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC. 468,805.04 +5,915.04 +1.28%
NKE NIKE INC. 112.94 +4.74 +4.38%
WMT WALMART INC. 126.00 +2.40 +1.94%
TGT TARGET CORP. 163.18 +6.69 +4.28%
VZ VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. 50.99 -0.25 -0.49%
T AT&T INC. 21.32 +0.02 +0.09%
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 37.42 +1.44 +4.00%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 40.84 +2.22 +5.74%
BAC BANK OF AMERICA CORP. 36.70 +0.69 +1.92%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 129.44 +2.20 +1.73%

While Jones acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done, he is optimistic that the company's ongoing efforts will help bring the Black unemployment rate down. 

"We still have to help companies utilize more channels to get to more diverse talent," he explained. "So part of this is widening the channels or the pathways through which companies and talent need one another. And you can't just keep going to the same ones and expect to continue to find more and more sources of talent." 

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Looking to the future, OneTen hopes to help hire or promote up to 150,000 Black workers annually in order to reach and surpass its overall goal. Outside its hiring and promotion efforts, the company is also working to provide Black talent with support services such as coaches, mentors, transportation assistance and mental wellness programs. 

"I want to stress that quality jobs by themselves is not enough," Jones said. "You also have to have [support services] and it's what all of us needs, right? So this is not unique to Black talent or to talent of color. All of us need mentors and coaches and sponsors. And so we're trying to make sure those are on the table in an abundance as well."    

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MRK MERCK & CO. INC. 92.32 -1.57 -1.68%
IBM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. 136.89 +2.50 +1.86%
AXP AMERICAN EXPRESS CO. 165.37 +4.86 +3.03%
AMGN AMGEN INC. 253.05 +0.04 +0.02%

OneTen is overseen by an executive committee comprised of Merck chairman Ken Frazier, former IBM chairwoman and CEO Ginni Rometty, former American Express chairman and CEO Ken Chenault, former Amgen chairman and CEO Kevin Sharer and former Infor chairman and CEO Charles Phillips.