Promoting Equity and Good Fit Jobs for Young Adults

Posted August 9, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog howtopromotefitjobs 2021

A young woman stands in the middle of a home improvement store, holding a notepad and smiling at the camera.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Gen­er­a­tion Work™ ini­tia­tive has helped employ­ers evolve how they hire, train and retain young adults with an end goal of find­ing good fit jobs” for these work­ers, accord­ing to a new report.

Pro­duced by the Aspen Institute’s Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ties Pro­gram, the report focus­es on Gen­er­a­tion Work’s five sites — in Cleve­land, Hart­ford, Indi­anapo­lis, Philadel­phia and Seat­tle. It details how work­force part­ners in these sites have aid­ed local employ­ers in adopt­ing prac­tices that fos­ter equi­ty while also rec­og­niz­ing the unique needs of young workers. 

Cit­ing a 2015 sur­vey of 340 youth-serv­ing work­force pro­fes­sion­als, the report iden­ti­fies a good fit job for young peo­ple as offering:

  • pay that pro­motes self-sufficiency;
  • men­tor­ship and sup­port­ive super­vi­so­ry practices; 
  • expo­sure to a vari­ety of responsibilities; 
  • safe and wel­com­ing envi­ron­ments; and 
  • sched­ul­ing that accounts for school course­work, child care and oth­er needs.

Young adults need jobs that work for them — espe­cial­ly now, since the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has dis­rupt­ed many young people’s edu­ca­tion­al and career goals,” says Rani­ta Jain, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. We hope this report offers some con­crete ideas for how work­force pro­fes­sion­als can bet­ter engage employ­er part­ners around serv­ing young people.” 

The work­force strate­gies described in the report, enti­tled Pro­mot­ing Equi­ty and Inclu­sion and Con­nec­tion to Good Fit Jobs for Young Adults, include: 

Fos­ter­ing equi­ty and diversity

Busi­ness­es seek to diver­si­ty their work­force for a vari­ety of rea­sons. These include: pub­licly com­mit­ting to hir­ing res­i­dents of com­mu­ni­ties that have been his­tor­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized, advanc­ing inter­nal goals to diver­si­fy staff; and look­ing to lead by exam­ple in pro­mot­ing inclusion. 

Such oppor­tu­ni­ties give work­force prac­ti­tion­ers an avenue for bet­ter accom­mo­dat­ing young job seek­ers — par­tic­u­lar­ly young job seek­ers of col­or. For Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ners, this work has included: 

  • Engag­ing anchor insti­tu­tions, such as uni­ver­si­ties and hos­pi­tals, in bet­ter serv­ing young adults. For exam­ple: Bol­ster­ing inclu­sive edu­ca­tion­al and career path­ways for young peo­ple of col­or and low-income appli­cants; or remov­ing key employ­ment bar­ri­ers, ­­such as restric­tive hir­ing poli­cies for peo­ple with crim­i­nal records or a sus­pend­ed driver’s license. 
  • Uti­liz­ing pub­lic wage sub­sidy pro­grams, such as Work­force Inno­va­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act fund­ing, to adopt youth-serv­ing work­place prac­tices. For exam­ple: Adding a men­tor­ship pro­gram into exist­ing agreements. 
  • Tap­ping into employ­er inter­est in address­ing racial inequities. For exam­ple: Offer­ing work­force equi­ty and inclu­sion train­ing; or shar­ing data on employ­ment disparities. 

Con­nect­ing employ­ers and young adults

Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ners have con­nect­ed employ­ers with young adults to learn about their skills, expe­ri­ences and unique job needs. Such con­nec­tions can also help dis­rupt pre­con­ceived bias­es and mind­sets about hir­ing young peo­ple — espe­cial­ly young peo­ple of col­or, accord­ing to the report. Work­force orga­ni­za­tions have sup­port­ed these engage­ments by: 

  • Host­ing employ­ers to meet with young adults to see first­hand how well young peo­ple can per­form on the job. 
  • Invit­ing young adults to employ­er part­ner meet­ings to help advance con­ver­sa­tions about the hur­dles — like jug­gling school sched­ules, child care needs and long com­mutes — that young peo­ple may be facing. 

Chang­ing work­place practices 

Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ners have also engaged employ­ers in evolv­ing their prac­tices to improve how young adults are onboard­ed, trained, men­tored and super­vised. This work includes: 

  • Pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal assis­tance to super­vi­sors, equip­ping them to effec­tive­ly men­tor young adults and offer con­struc­tive guid­ance on job performance. 
  • Gath­er­ing and shar­ing work­er feed­back to aid super­vi­sors and man­agers in improv­ing their prac­tices to bet­ter serve young adults. 

Check out more resources for work­force orga­ni­za­tions on pro­mot­ing diver­si­ty, equi­ty and inclusion 

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