Navajo Nation launches new Talent Marketplace to transform the workforce and promote economic mobility and self-determination

Aspire Ability and the Competency-based Education Network team up to help Navajo Nation develop its first-ever repository of all jobs available on the reservation and the skills needed to fill them.

WINDOW ROCK, AZ — April 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Working with the guidance and support of Navajo leaders and tribal agencies, the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) and Aspire Ability Inc. today announce an initiative to develop The Navajo Nation Talent Marketplace, a unique ecosystem of Navajo job seekers, employers, and education providers. For the first time ever, the Navajo Nation will have a central repository of all the jobs available on the reservation both in-person and remotely. The new marketplace identifies the job skills required, and offers postsecondary programs aligned to employer needs.

“My administration looks forward to the day when all Navajos who are seeking employment can find a thriving wage job here at home,” said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren. “The Navajo Nation Talent Marketplace — where employers join forces with the tribal colleges to serve job seekers — is the first step in building an economy that supports living in hózhóó now and in the future.”

The Navajo Nation is one of the largest federally-recognized Native American tribes in North America, encompassing 27,000 square miles of territory in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The two-year initiative is designed to address longstanding structural barriers to employment and economic growth on the reservation. Almost 36 percent of Navajo households live below the federal poverty line, and unemployment and poverty fuel an ongoing pattern of migration and brain drain that undermines the viability of the Navajo Nation. Only 66 percent (168,000 individuals) of enrolled tribal members currently live in the Navajo Nation.

“Having an online, publicly available resource linking jobs and education programs will match people to the full range of opportunities across the reservation,” said Moroni Benally, a member of the Navajo Nation and Head of Public Policy and Partnerships at Aspire Ability. “It’s a critical step in our nation’s long-term efforts to offer all Navajo — from our 3,500 yearly high school graduates to those who moved away — access to credentials that tie to well paid jobs within the nation.”

Setting up the marketplace involves a structured and integrated series of projects conducted by Aspire Ability and C-BEN to fully connect employers, job seekers and higher education institutions. The work is rooted in competency-based education (CBE), which focuses on student learning and the application of that learning — what people know and can do — rather than time spent in class.

The Aspire Ability Navajo Nation Talent Marketplace will enable this by replacing the age-old resume / job-description model with tools that match Job Seekers’ competencies with the competencies required for specific jobs. Instead of traditional job requirements, Employers post job competency maps detailing requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Both Job Seekers and Employers can see reports summarizing how well they match the competency requirements for jobs. If Job Seekers’ lack some of the competencies for a desired job, they are provided a personalized upskilling plan, listing the specific KSAs they need.

The marketplace will provide Navajo learners access to scalable, competency-based pathways that result in the credentials necessary for their chosen career. To deliver this marketplace capability, C-BEN will work with Navajo Technical University, Diné College and other local education providers to develop competency-based programs that align to the high-demand skills sought by employers. To ensure the education programs continue to focus on the competencies needed by employers, the marketplace technology platform will share job posting data with the colleges and universities.

By participating in the marketplace, Navajo Nation members will be matched to open jobs that best fit their competencies. Additionally, if the job seeker needs to upskill for a job, the marketplace will link them to programs that help them acquire the necessary skills.

“We are honored to join Aspire Ability to work on this initiative to support flexible and relevant learning for Navajo and we are excited to see Navajo Technical University and Dine College as the first tribal colleges to harness the power of competencies for learners to earn a valuable credential, find a high-paying job, and to do so within their own Navajo Nation,” said Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan, Executive Vice President of C-BEN.

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About Aspire Ability

Aspire Ability works with rural and disadvantaged communities to help them address the chronic employment needs they face. Aspire Ability’s Community Talent Marketplace, a suite of software and surrounding services, connects job seekers to available jobs by matching their competencies with employers’ needs. In lieu of posting resumes, job seekers create competency profiles that enumerate their competencies and attributes (supported by evidence, e.g., certificates and badges, work product, etc.). Instead of traditional job requirements, employers post job competency maps detailing requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Both job seekers and employers can see reports summarizing how well they match the competency requirements for specific jobs. This approach yields more transparent, objective, data-driven decision-making in the hiring process.

If job seekers lack some of the competencies for a desired job, they are provided a personalized upskilling plan that addresses the specific gaps in their KSAs. Aspire Ability works with learning providers (post-secondary institutions and commercial providers) to connect job seekers with learning resources and opportunities aligned with those KSAs.

About the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN)

C-BEN is a network of institutions, employers, and experts who believe competencies can unlock the future of learning — making education and training more flexible, responsive, and valuable. We support stakeholders across the spectrum of competency-based learning, from institutions and employers who want to embed competencies into their existing programs to those looking to design full competency-based degree programs from the ground up. For more information, visit C-BEN.org

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