The Boston Globe: For Low-Income Workers, a Chance to Learn New Skills Without Paying a Dime Upfront

February 9, 2021

By Katie Johnston

Excerpted from The Boston Globe

If white-collar employees develop a serious work-from-home habit in the post-pandemic world, what happens to the cleaners and dishwashers and taxi drivers who relied on these people coming in to the office? If online shopping becomes the norm, how will store clerks make a living?

A national pilot program by a Boston nonprofit aims to address these looming questions by training low-income people for in-demand jobs without requiring them to pay a dime upfront — and only requiring them to foot the bill if and when they start earning decent money.

The Social Finance initiative could provide a lifeline to the many workers with lower education levels who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Some may never get their jobs back, if, as some economists expect, COVID has a permanent effect on the labor market.

More than half the jobs in the labor market don’t require a college degree, but the cost of training needed for many of them is still out of reach for many people, said Tracy Palandjian, chief executive and cofounder of Social Finance.

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Photo: Jeo Tovar, a 35-year-old father of three in Dorchester, formerly worked as a fitness coach and personal trainer. He has finished a user experience design course, focused on the look and feel of software. “There’s no way I’m going back into a gym,” he said. Erin Clark/Globe Staff