Goldman Sachs has picked Baltimore as one of four cities where it will launch a workforce development program that matches college students with small businesses struggling to hire workers during the pandemic.
The investment bank plans to announce its 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows program Monday. It builds on Goldman Sachs’ existing 10,000 Small Businesses training program, which expanded to Baltimore in 2017 and has since graduated 460 Baltimore-area businesses.
The new workforce development pilot, developed in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, will offer paid, semester-long internships for students at community colleges and historically Black colleges and universities. The first crop of 120 students will come from Morgan State University, the Community College of Baltimore County and colleges in New York City, Cleveland and Dallas.
The number of students hired each semester is expected to grow, with participants offered jobs in their field of interest funded by the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Asahi Pompey, global head of corporate engagement and president of the foundation, said small businesses have long lacked access to a steady talent pipeline.
“At the same time, historically underserved community college students haven’t always had equal access to the professional experiences and support that are essential to career success,” Pompey said in the announcement. “There has never been a more critical moment to invest in the growth and success of our workforce.”
The program is designed to provide a steady pipeline of workers to small businesses that have been severely hurt by the COVID-19 crisis and who are also alumni of the 10,000 Businesses program, which offers education and access to capital.
The New York investment bank said it sees the workforce initiative as critical to economic recovery from the pandemic. Small businesses employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.
Roles that are fundamental to business recovery are the highest in demand and yet the hardest to fill, a recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses survey found.
In the survey, more than three-quarters of small business owners said sales and marketing roles were critical for recovery and growth, yet nearly half said those roles were the most difficult to fill, with too few applicants having the right skills.
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“At my business, we were looking for a qualified, empathetic candidate who is looking to make a difference while also gaining valuable work experience,” said Stephanie S. Franklin, president and CEO of Catonsville-based The Franklin Law Group, said in Monday’s announcement.
Franklin said the firm was matched “perfectly with a candidate who we will treat as an integral team member that can learn quickly and support our mission.”
Christina Zhang, a junior studying business administration at Community College of Baltimore County and one of the 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows, has been placed at an internship with Silver Spring-based Vital Signs, a communication services agency specializing in American Sign Language.
Zhang said she hopes to “develop valuable workplace experience and make long lasting connections along the way.”
Goldman Sachs also will be working with students from Dallas College in Dallas, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York, and Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
Participants will have access to a national network of alumni from the 10,000 Small Businesses program as well as Goldman Sachs experts.
In June, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon had said the Baltimore area will be included in a $250 million commitment to reach another 10,000 entrepreneurs in cities across the U.S. Half the participants in the 10,000 Small Businesses program add employees within one or two years, while two-thirds boost their revenue immediately after completing the 100-hour course, the firm has found.