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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