Generation Work Tools for Employer Partnerships

Research Roundup

Posted June 21, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog generationworktools 2021

Many young peo­ple are ambi­tious and inter­est­ed in a diverse array of career fields. Still, too often, young adults — espe­cial­ly those of col­or and from low-income back­grounds — strug­gle to obtain the skills, cre­den­tials and expe­ri­ences need­ed to secure good jobs that pay fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing wages. Sys­temic inequities in the work­force, edu­ca­tion and jus­tice sys­tems have left many young peo­ple dis­con­nect­ed from the oppor­tu­ni­ties they need to thrive in mean­ing­ful careers. 

In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion launched Gen­er­a­tion Work in five cities: Cleve­land, Hart­ford, Indi­anapo­lis, Philadel­phia and Seat­tle. These local part­ner­ships are explor­ing new ways to con­nect young peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly those of col­or, with the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ences they need to suc­ceed in mean­ing­ful careers. A key part of that work: Part­ner­ing with employ­ers to ensure that young peo­ple have paths to good careers — com­bin­ing best prac­tices from the adult edu­ca­tion and train­ing fields with pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment strate­gies.

Below are resources pro­duced by three Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ner­ships that con­tain insights for how orga­ni­za­tions that work with youth and young adults can part­ner more effec­tive­ly with employ­ers; offer rec­om­men­da­tions for employ­er part­ners about work­ing with young peo­ple; and pro­vide exam­ples for how employ­ers have worked well with youth and young adults. 

The Hart­ford Partnership 

Young Adults @ Work: Employ­ment Prac­tices that Moti­vate Young Adults

This pub­li­ca­tion from the Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ner­ship in Hart­ford, Con­necti­cut, offers insights from inter­views con­duct­ed in sum­mer 2019 with cur­rent and past par­tic­i­pants of the initiative’s edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams. Young peo­ple said they were moti­vat­ed when employ­er part­ners set clear expec­ta­tions, lis­tened to their ideas and fos­tered respect­ful envi­ron­ments with fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In con­trast, youth and young adults were demo­ti­vat­ed when they encoun­tered neg­a­tive atti­tudes at a job site, com­pli­cat­ed work process­es and equip­ment and tech­nol­o­gy that was outdated. 

The Cleve­land Partnership

Employ­er Engage­ment Ques­tion Bank

This tool — pro­duced by the Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ner­ship of North­east Ohio — pro­vides a list of ques­tions that work­force devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions can ask to gauge whether an employ­er is a good fit for the young job seek­ers they serve. The resource includes ques­tions about work­ing hours, hir­ing prac­tices and oppor­tu­ni­ties to advance with­in a company. 

Young Adult Cri­tiques of Work­place Practices

This pub­li­ca­tion high­lights find­ings from inter­views of 32 young adults who were engaged in work­force devel­op­ment ser­vices and train­ing with Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ners in North­east Ohio. Among oth­er things, young peo­ple inter­viewed said they val­ued employ­ers that put equi­ty first; gave pos­i­tive feed­back when it was due; and offered young peo­ple oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­mo­tions and new responsibilities. 

The Seat­tle Partnership

Young Adult Cri­tiques of Work­place Practices

The Seat­tle part­ner­ship pro­duced two pub­li­ca­tions in 2019 that high­light­ed young adults’ per­spec­tives on local work­place prac­tices. The first paper report­ed that Gen­er­a­tion Z and Mil­len­ni­al Gen­er­a­tion Work par­tic­i­pants in Seat­tle believe — among many oth­er things — that some employ­ers pro­vide too few oppor­tu­ni­ties for young work­ers to grow into new roles. Many also said that busi­ness­es often do not have objec­tive stan­dards for supe­ri­ors to eval­u­ate their contributions. 

The sec­ond paper high­light­ed ways young adults think employ­ers and train­ing providers can help them suc­ceed in their work­ing lives, includ­ing help­ing them deter­mine which types of com­pa­nies they might want to work for and which kinds of work­ing envi­ron­ments they would thrive in.

Pro­mot­ing the Career Advance­ment of Young Adults Before and After COVID-19

This report offers insights into the expe­ri­ences of Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ner Port Jobs’ schol­ar­ship recip­i­ents — all of whom were young peo­ple, ages 1829 — as they faced the COVID-19 out­break. The recip­i­ents con­front­ed numer­ous chal­lenges that affect­ed their work­ing lives and edu­ca­tions, includ­ing dis­rup­tions to child care and loss of work­ing hours because of the pan­dem­ic. Port Jobs — which pre­pares indi­vid­u­als for careers at the Seat­tle-Taco­ma Inter­na­tion­al Air­port — is using these insights to work with oth­er local part­ners to bet­ter under­stand and sup­port young adults whose lives were affect­ed in numer­ous ways by the pandemic. 

Port Jobs Gen­er­a­tion Work Inter­view Guidelines

This set of guide­lines includes tips for inter­view­ing young peo­ple — includ­ing pick­ing a time and place where the inter­vie­wee will be com­fort­able and end­ing the inter­view by ask­ing if the young per­son has any com­ments or ques­tions. The resource is based on Port Jobs’ expe­ri­ence inter­view­ing young adults for job openings.

Insights from Human Resource Employees

This Feb­ru­ary 2019 report sum­ma­rizes the most fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions from human resources staff who con­tact­ed ref­er­ences to inquire about young peo­ple who list­ed their roles as con­sul­tants for the Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ner­ship in Seat­tle on their resumes. Ques­tions included:

  • How do you know the job candidate? 
  • If you had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hire them, would you? 
  • Why do you feel this per­son would be a good fit for our company?
  • What are the candidate’s biggest strengths and weaknesses? 

Among oth­er things, human resources staffers — who most­ly rep­re­sent­ed man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies — often want­ed to explore can­di­dates’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles, team­work abil­i­ties, crit­i­cal think­ing skills and dependability. 

Learn more about Gen­er­a­tion Work: 

A Clos­er Look at Gen­er­a­tion Work

Gen­er­a­tion Work: Equip­ping Young Peo­ple With In-Demand Employ­ment Skills and Credentials

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