Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS) was founded in 2005 by Dr. Art Langer. While coming of age in the Bronx, New York, Langer experienced limitations to education and employment opportunities. He often had to travel outside of his community to seek mentorship and guidance when it came to furthering his education. The lack of access to resources inspired him to dedicate his career to leveling the playing field for individuals from underserved communities and underrepresented groups.
In 2001, as part of the Workplace Literacy Program, Dr. Langer launched The Inner-City Workplace Literacy Study at Columbia University. The study was comprised of over 40 low-income adults from Harlem, NY and studied how to prepare these individuals—who had little educational or technical experience—for roles in information technology. The research project identified the employment challenges they faced in efforts to provide them with the proper training to be able to compete in the job market. The study’s findings illustrated that there’s an essential need for programs that merged technical training, interpersonal skills, and advice on how to boost self-confidence to successfully integrate underserved talent into the workforce.
While conducting the research, Dr. Langer created the Langer Workforce Maturity Arc (LWMA), a tool designed to measure the job readiness of the study’s subjects. Participants shared their experiences through prompted questions in learning journals and the information was coded qualitatively. Using his findings from the research project, Dr. Langer created a systemic workforce development solution to make job training programs more accessible for those living in underserved communities.
In 2003, he launched his first program at Columbia University, which would lay the foundation for Workforce Opportunity Services in 2005.