Workforce development

David Bornstein, writing in the New York Times, describes an exciting workforce development program that appears to be successful.  This reminds me of an article I used to assign back in the dark ages to my developmental writing classes--called something like "Why don't I get an A?"  (I'm afraid I've learned too much since then and overwritten the exact title on my hard drive.)  Anyway, the article described how to act like a good student--focusing on behaviors that students can adopt to make them appear more like high achieving students.  When they acted like good students, their grades improved.  If anyone knows the name of this 70's article, please let me know.

Training Youths in the Ways of the Workplace -
Year Up, a nonprofit, was founded by Gerald Chertavian, a social entrepreneur who started his career on Wall Street before building a technology firm that he and his partners sold for $83 million. When he was a college freshman, Chertavian began volunteering as a mentor and Big Brother to low-income youths. He did this for decades. He was impressed by the ambition and talents of the young people he got to know. But he saw that they had little scope to “plug in” to the mainstream economy. It wasn’t just that some had attended poor schools or lacked college credentials; they lacked exposures to the “professional culture” — and this, as much as any skill gap, kept them marginalized.

Year Up assists disadvantaged, mostly minority youths, whose only academic requirement is a high school degree or equivalency degree. It offers a six-month training program followed by a six-month internship in a large corporation like State Street, Fidelity Investments, JP Morgan Chase, Partners Healthcare, or AOL. Since its founding in Boston in 2000 with a class of 22 students, Year Up has expanded to eight cities and served 4,000 young adults. About 70 percent of its students complete the program and the organization reports that, within four months, 84 percent of graduates are either enrolled full time in college or have secured a job. The average starting wage is $15 per hour — roughly $30,000 per year. . . .
But none of the above fully explains Year Up’s success. The real difference is that Year Up takes great care to prepare its students to succeed in a professional culture. “We often talk about hard and soft skills,” says Chertavian. “To me, it’s actually hard and harder skills.” The merely hard skills are things that many training programs cover — for IT, it might be using software applications or installing hardware. The harder skills are more nuanced. They involve questions like: Do you know how to communicate in a team? If you’re running late, do you know to call ahead? If you don’t have enough work, do you know to be proactive and ask for more? Do you know how to write a professional sounding e-mail?
Chertavian points out that the social signals new employees send can make all the difference. “It’s how you make eye contact, it’s how you dress, it’s how you shake hands, it’s how you make small talk at a Christmas Party,” he says. “It’s when we speak, are you nodding your head? Are you leaning in and asking questions? It’s knowing how to introduce yourself. It’s knowing what’s appropriate for conversation. All of those things are learned. If you don’t have that context, boy, it feels real foreign to go through the security gate at Fidelity and exist in that environment.”


france pope said…
Very nice post, thanks for sharing the information. Keep up the good work.

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