Pursuit provides their services to individuals who have the “highest need,” but they only accept a small percentage of the people that apply to the program, looking for attributes like problem-solving and perseverance to indicate training readiness. This preference for highly motivated candidates aligns well with research by Angela Duckworth on the concept of “grit,” which suggests that factors like passion and perseverance are stronger indicators of future success than IQ or many other traditional “crystal ball” metrics.
Pursuit places a priority on mastering both computer programming and a range of interpersonal skills like teamwork and effective communication. This combination of hard- and soft-skill training has a proven track record and directly correlates to what employers say they look for in new employees. Pursuit’s approach is echoed in evaluations of similar programs, such as those studied in the MDRC Work Advance project, which also noted the importance of combined hard- and soft-skill training.
Finally, even though Pursuit’s training program can be completed in 10 months, the nonprofit pitches its program as a four-year commitment that includes three years of mentoring after training completion. This underscores the importance of social connections and mentoring in helping help individuals navigate the challenges and opportunities of life in the workforce.
Pursuit is part of a growing sector of what Ryan Craig describes as “last-mile” training providers. These entities are close to employers and workers, and they specialize in tailored training models that meet market demand by solving skill deficits for otherwise talented and motivated workers. For Americans seeking good, middle-skill jobs, these groups provide an essential bridge to a more promising future.