While it is imperative for the public systems to educate, train, and prepare youth for the workforce, youth can never truly be ready for employment without actually having experienced employment in some way. And, whether it's through internships, job shadowing, or another form of entry into the world of work, that experience cannot be gained without the engagement of employers.
Across the country, workforce development systems recognize the need for increased employer participation to create opportunities for workplace and career exposure, hands-on experience, opportunities for applied learning, mentoring, role models, and ultimately successful transition to the workplace. To do so, workforce and youth development professionals along with education must work to engage and get input from business to craft a quality pipeline model and support structure. There are several key roles employers can play in collaboration with the workforce, education and youth providers to develop a pipeline of prepared workers, including:
- Participate in the customizing of training content/ assist teachers with contextual - hands-on learning
- Mentoring and coaching at workplace, E-mentoring
- Employers opening up work place for exploration, internships, on-the-job-training, work experience
- Establishing workplace and occupational competencies and methods for documenting them
- Providing access to full-time and part-time jobs
- Assuring the quality of graduates and assuring their hire in the sector
Employers are increasingly aligned in their assessments of the skills and attributes needed for success on the job, including basic literacy, numeracy, the ability to work in team settings, and a level of competence with basic computer applications. Successful partnerships and programs will emphasize these skills and competencies in a way that engages and gets disconnected youth excited about educational and career goals.
Developing new and innovative ways to engage youth in areas where traditional educational approaches neither engages at-risk youth to continue their studies or look for successful career and occupational paths would ensure youth truly have the opportunity to experience employment in some way.