Reaching out to young adults

The most recent numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the overall rate of unemployment is 3.9 percent but for young people aged 20-24 it’s 6.9 percent. Here in Massachusetts, we do much better, with an overall rate of 3.4 percent unemployment versus 3.7 percent for those age 20-24.

That’s due, in part, to the many programs in Massachusetts for young adults in need of job placement and career development. Here at Career Collaborative, we’ve been honing our program for a special subset of young adults looking for employment—those without college degrees—and our program focuses on adults age 25 and under.

A major component of our approach is to develop strong relationships with employers and drive program participants to develop skills that meet the needs of employers. Career Collaborative has relationships with many of Greater Boston’s largest employers in the fields of healthcare, higher education, the banking and financial industry, hospitality, and the nonprofit sector. Area professionals serve as interviewers in the intensive practice interview sessions our participants undergo, and they share their expertise and insight on a variety of topics in our workshops.

 This approach dovetails with the findings of a 2015 report by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, which reviewed three decades worth of literature on youth employment programs. One of the key components to successful youth employment programs that they identified was a demand-driven approach to workforce development with “strong employer participation.” In other words, exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years.

MDRC also found that providing case management services to young people facing systemic barriers to success such as poverty and racism to assist them with securing housing, childcare, healthcare and transportation is also critical for a successful program. Career Collaborative staff members are experienced in helping program participants work through some of these outside barriers to success in the workplace, including low English proficiency, lack of familiarity with U.S. workplace and cultural norms, and limited financial literacy that can lead to unmanageable consumer debt and housing instability.

Beyond a demand-driven approach and support services, Career Collaborative offers critical post-participation career development. Research done at MIT has demonstrated better outcomes for long-term unemployed people who received career coaching. Once a participant accepts a job offer, our coaches work individually with them for up to two years, coaching them on negotiating salaries, understanding retirement plans, preparing for performance reviews, asking for raises, and applying for promotions. We also coach them on effective communication, how to be a valued team member, and how to nurture and grow their professional network. While these practices and skills are fundamental to building a career at any stage of life, they are particularly important for younger employees navigating workplace issues for the first time. 

Do you know a young person who might benefit from our program? Send them our way! We’ll thank you with $25 for each person you refer who is accepted into Career Collaborative! Contact us at info@careercollaborative or 617.424.6616 to learn more, make a referral, or sign up.