A Spotlight on Sector Strategies: Connecting Youth With Work
For young people pursuing a high school diploma or postsecondary education and training, finding a job with a flexible schedule and a paycheck that covers basic expenses — things like housing, child care and transportation — can seem impossible.
Fortunately, sector-based workforce strategies can help.
These approaches consider the hiring needs of employers in growing industries and then work to equip job seekers — often individuals from low-income communities — with the desired skills and credentials.
For nearly three decades, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has invested in sector-based workforce strategies, including launching two initiatives in recent years: Generation Work™ and Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP)™.
Generation Work and LEAP
Generation Work — which spans partnerships in five cities nationwide — helps young people leverage the skills they gain from entry-level work experiences so that they can pursue longer-term career paths in high-growth fields.
With LEAP, Foundation partners are employing sector strategies to help young people advance their academic and career goals and achieve greater financial stability. Local examples of this initiative in action include:
- In Arizona: Jobs for Arizona's Graduates (JAG) teamed up with a local grocery chain, Fry’s Food, to streamline its application and hiring processes and appoint training specialists to support LEAP participants and other JAG youth. To date, nearly 100 JAG youth have gained employment with Fry’s Food, which has more than 120 store locations.
- In New York City: Three organizations — The Door, Hostos Community College and workforce training provider Per Scholas — joined forces to help introduce youth to work in high-growth sectors. To date, 37 young people have received training, certification and paid work experience via the college’s emergency medical technician program. Young people interested in technology — another in-demand field — can enroll in Per Scholas’s program to prepare for entry-level IT careers.
- Also in New York City: The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Solutions and its workforce partners — including STRIVE New York — offer LEAP youth skill-building and credentialing opportunities in a range of in-demand fields. To date, 10 young people have completed the STRIVE program.
- In Los Angeles: The Coalition for Responsible Community Development offers comprehensive support — including books, uniforms and transportation subsidies — to current and former foster youth who are attending the Los Angeles Trade Technical College and preparing for work in the transportation and manufacturing fields.
- In Detroit: Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates and the Emerging Industries Training Institute are helping LEAP youth explore carpentry jobs and secure a union apprenticeship while finishing high school. At the end of the 16-week program, participants have earned a certification from the state of Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- In Alaska: Covenant House Alaska and its workforce development partner Nine Star launched the Covey Cafe coffee shop. LEAP participants can intern at the shop to gain hands-on food service and management experience in a youth-centered, trauma-informed setting.