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Education Investors’ Latest Fund Will Deploy $180 Million to Building Apprenticeships in High-Demand Fields

Pioneering education investors Ryan Craig and Daniel Pianko announced the close of a new $180 million fund dedicated to creating faster pathways to good jobs. Achieve Partners’ first-of-its-kind fund will focus exclusively on investing in businesses that are positioned to boost economic mobility via next-gen apprenticeship programs in skill gap sectors like IT and healthcare.

“We are excited to be supporting the Putting America Back to Work Fund, which through their unique playbook can accelerate the growth of businesses and at the same time build frictionless pathways to work for millions,” said Andrea Kaufman of Prudential Impact & Responsible Investing. “Providing training for in-demand jobs has the ultimate impact of providing economic mobility for Americans.”

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In the wake of a pandemic that exacerbated economic inequality while accelerating the pace of technological change, the U.S. labor market faces a paradox: millions of Americans are still unemployed, but companies are struggling to find qualified talent to fill vacant roles. There are currently over 9 million unfilled jobs, millions of which are attractive career-ladder positions in fast-growing sectors. The Putting America Back to Work Fund is addressing this challenge head-on by acquiring platforms in fast-growing industries like healthcare IT and cybersecurity that are positioned to launch novel apprenticeship programs, and then throughput thousands of newly-trained apprentices into good entry-level jobs.

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“Our goal is to catalyze more pathways to good jobs that provide learners a real-world experience and relevant job skills aligned to the evolving labor market,” said Ben Walton, Co-founder of ZOMA Capital and investor in Putting America Back to Work. “At the same time, the apprenticeship model encourages companies to prioritize hiring based on skills and competencies which, in turn, increases opportunity for economic mobility.”

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“For decades, policy makers have sought to expand apprenticeships beyond the building and industrial trades,” said Ryan Craig, the author of A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College and College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education. “Rather than simply hoping that employers or colleges will start to act differently, we’re buying companies that can create apprenticeship programs in talent-starved sectors of technology and healthcare. We’re backing the buildout of an entirely new approach to sourcing and screening talent, and providing the vital last-mile training that workers need.”

“This is not a concessionary capital fund, and we do have an explicit impact goal,” added Daniel Pianko. “Over the life of the fund, we hope to put 100,000 Americans into good tech and healthcare jobs they would not have otherwise been able to access. If we’re successful, we may play a small part in helping to rekindle socioeconomic mobility in the U.S.”

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