We note with interest (and some professional angst) recent pieces on the ‘lack of qualified workers in our region’ and seemingly constant laments from CEOs about ‘soft skills’ being increasingly absent in new hires—truisms that surprise no one who has been paying attention to this topic—what struck us most was the absence of any youth-serving non-profits being mentioned as part of the solution. After all the workforce of tomorrow is in Club facilities today—here in Green Bay, throughout the New North footprint and across the nation—and in some cases we are already providing excellent job preparation supports to an increasingly diverse and highly motivated group of teens who want the American dream.
My comments above take nothing away from technical colleges, the business community, government agencies, public schools and/or umbrella organization that have their shoulders to this wheel—all are critical components to a fruitful/sustainable ‘talent pipeline’ that obviously needs to be improved—but we respectfully offer ourselves as an equally significant contributor and stand ready to prove our worth.
For example, any Club in the country could offer the curriculum-based Career Launch program, which specifically addresses ‘soft skills’ that quite frankly many adults do not bring to the job for one reason or another. In addition, all Clubs with adequate resources can offer our proven Junior Staff program, which gives teens real work experience at minimum wage with a supervisor and exit interview before they venture out into the marketplace for an entry level part time job.
Here at the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay we are in the third year of what is called our Teens2Work initiative—it starts with Career Launch and ends with Junior Staff but along the way we include Money Matters so young people earning their first paychecks have a basic level of financial literacy—as a package then our ‘graduates’ are ready for entry level part time employment in the community and we really need new partners for job shadows, internships and part time jobs. On a related note we also look for local business reps to strengthen our Career Launch program as
speakers and/or interviewers—so far employees from Old Navy, Longhorn Steakhouse, ABR Employment Agency, Festival Foods, U.S. Cellular and Green Bay Chamber of Commerce have been involved—meeting ‘real life’ professionals is very important for Club members.
Some theorize that the ‘skills gap’ may really be a ‘pay gap’ and cite starting wages of only $17/hour as part of the problem—which may be true for some adult workers who have earned more previously—or a recent college graduate with unrealistic expectations. However, if you are a first generation high school graduate coming from a household in poverty who gets a chance at making $35K or more counting overtime within a year
or two after moving the tassel over, one is likely to be thrilled at such an opportunity. And, if they have come through our Teens2Work program, they probably have the ‘soft skills’ employers want plus a true appreciation for just getting a chance to prove themselves. Said another way, give someone who has lived on next to nothing all his/her life a chance to make a decent wage and perhaps even move up with hard work, and you have a win-win situation.
So this is a shout out to just about everyone who has been quoted on or written about the ‘lack of qualified workers in our region’ or absence of ‘soft skills’ in their employees—consider a direct partnership with your local Club
around ‘talent pipeline’ development—with a moderate investment we could make youth fully aware of career opportunities in your industry or company with a customized preparation sub-track.
Right now we have a basic robotics program with significant upgrades coming—it would be great to deliver that in concert with employers who need workers who have those skills—help us shape experiences for our members that make them even stronger applicants. As noted above we already include ‘soft skills’ in our T2W initiative—if you are a direct customer service company we could work together. Maybe you represent a company or industry that really needs to diversify its workforce as part of a good long term business strategy—call us.
You can visit www.bgcgb.org or call Rashad Cobb at 494-7090 ext 1078 to learn more—we have been waiting for you.