Cincinnati Startup Creates New Career Pathways for Those Without a College Degree

How Peerro paves the way to career success for young workers and employers who need them

For college students, career pathing is often laid out for you: graduate with the degree you need, find an internship and a first job and then work your way up the ladder. But for young adults who aren’t attending college, the process of learning a trade, achieving the necessary qualifications and finding success can be much more challenging. In an attempt to create better pathways to success for the next generation of workers, Rachel Angel created Peerro, an app to boost all stages of a career for those without a traditional degree.

“Peerro is a career pathway management system that facilitates training, recruitment and employment,” said Angel. “It’s really an end-to-end system that allows agencies to upload training that prepares young people for employment, allows employers to attach those trainings to a pathway and then allows young adults to schedule interviews with those employers. It services this process in a systematic way that hasn’t been done before.”

Peerro starts by helping students find entry-level jobs and training programs in their community, showing them a roadmap of steps and qualifications required for positions. Then, it helps arrange interviews and works with schools and job preparedness programs to match skills with open jobs. Employers registered on the platform get easy access to a pool of qualified, vetted candidates for jobs that are often difficult to fill. Peerro’s mission is a personal one to Angel, who wants to make a lasting difference in communities throughout Ohio and beyond.

“I’m a pharmacist by trade, but growing up I worked through high school because I lived on my own at 16,” she said. “I understand the challenges for young people. And being a minority founder, I understand those challenges of being a minority in society and being someone who needs to work and be on your own earlier than you anticipated. I understand the need to have an opportunity and the importance of knowing what the next step is within that opportunity when you don’t have someone guiding you.”

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Angel founded Peerro in 2015 when she noticed the glaring need for something to connect these types of future employees with the employers who need them. Peerro said she was surprised to find that the process was so disjointed and unorganized, and wanted to bring all the necessary steps and people together in one place.

“People are lost,” she said. “They have no idea how to become a plumber or a machine operator, and they might not even know that those jobs exist. That’s the challenge. We’ve seen a demand for these different positions because people don’t even know about them and aren’t preparing for them. There was a hole in the pipeline.”

The startup has caught the attention of Peerro’s newest investor, CincyTech. In a release, CincyTech managing director Stacey Browning said Peerro’s potential benefits make it an important asset, along with Angel’s leadership.

“Rachel Angel is a force of nature,” said Browning. “She’s driven to simultaneously make a difference to non-degreed workers, while helping employers hire motivated, entry level team members. At CincyTech, we readily saw the large market opportunity and Peerro’s scalable business model.”

Angel said Peerro has already reached about 6,000 young workers through the app, and has plans to continue building relationships with government agencies and organizations that can help advance careers. In the future, she sees Peerro expanding across Ohio and someday going beyond.

“I’m hoping we can eventually have all Ohio counties on the platform and have at least 60 percent of nonprofit agencies in the state using Peerro,” she said. “We have to have synergy among educators, employers and candidates. To create that synergy, we need larger participation from employers and agencies. We’d like to make it so that when someone gets a certification in Hamilton County, it’s recognized in Franklin or Cuyahoga. And eventually, we’d like to have it be recognized across state lines.”

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