On Friday, April 5th, Amber Scott, Founder & Executive Director, with Leap Year, Jacque Joyce, Industry Partnerships Manager with Atlanta CareerRise and the Career Compass Academy, and Breezy Straton, Vice President of Economic Development with the Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership and Douglas County Career Ready Training program joined MAX to discuss how to successful foster meaningful youth work experiences. They shared examples from their programs, each with a successful track record in connecting youth to early career pathways for in-demand jobs.
Scott, Joyce, and Straton provided a brief review of their programs, as follows:
- Leap Year, a nonprofit organization with a two-generation approach to educational equity, recruits low-income and first generation high school graduates to spend 1 year between high school and college. In that year, program participants accomplish three things. One, they tutor 2nd graders in reading to help with early childhood literacy. This is an opportunity for the recent high school graduates to help the next generation learn how to get where they have as college students. Two, through a partnership with Georgia State University’s Decatur Campus, they take two classes over the course of the year and receive support (tutoring, time management workshops, etc.) to help them learn how to do well in college classes. Three, program participants learn about career pathways. Leap Year partners with local corporations to serve as career mentors to Leap Year Fellows. This year’s partner is State Farm. The fellows earn $500 per month to work at the corporation. This is often their first professional job.
- Career Compass Academy was developed as a response to the need to provide youth training in the summer during a pandemic given in-person summer internships were not an option. Through a partnership with WorkSource Metro Atlanta, a collaboration of the five local workforce boards, to develop a career exploration and work experience program. The program is 5 weeks long and helps youth explore different career paths in three industry sectors: transportation, distribution, and logistics; information technology (IT); and healthcare. Students explore key career pathway development questions such as: What does a career pathway look like? Now that you’ve learned about a career pathway, what do you next? Students participate in fifteen 90-minute sessions each week, and can access 36 online modules provided through the Accenture Skills to Succeed Academy to help them with work readiness. Students also learn how to develop a resume, cover letter, and a career plan.
- The Douglas County Career Ready Training program was developed by the Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership in collaboration with HR directors and leaders with the Douglas County School System, West Georgia Technical College’s Douglas Campus, and WorkSource Atlanta Regional. The partners learned that while Douglas County Schools had several programs for students who are high achievers and college-bound and several programs to provide at-risk students with all the supports they need, they did not have programs for the average student. In addition, the partners learned that 30% of their high school students go immediately into the workforce after high school, often working in retail and other low-wage jobs. At the same time, Douglas County’s employers have had difficulty finding work ready candidates for entry-level positions. To help high school students prepare for career pathway opportunities with these employers, the partners developed a training program to address this need.
In addition to discussing the specific goals of their programs, Scott, Joyce, and Straton provided insights on what it takes to develop a successful youth work experience where youth are equipped to proceed with career pathways that pay a livable wage. They also shared perspectives from the youth they serve.
The session was hosted by MAX board member Rob LeBeau, Manager, Workforce Solutions Group and Director, Atlanta Regional Workforce Development Board (WorkSource Atlanta Regional) with the Atlanta Regional Commission and moderated by MAX board member Daniela Perry, Vice President of the Georgia Chamber Foundation with the Georgia Chamber.
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ABOUT MAX MINUTES
Launched in 2014, the mission of MAX is to advance economic competitiveness in the Atlanta region by strengthening connections, collaborations, and practices among workforce developers and organizations engaged in workforce development.
Through our webinar series, MAX Minutes, MAX seeks to bring timely insights to providers, intermediaries, and other partners in workforce. MAX Minutes features talks by key experts in the Atlanta region and beyond on important workforce matters.