Identifies how employer-led industry partnerships can contribute to employment pathways for Opportunity Youth and can be harnessed to offer a clear sequence of education coursework, training credentials and job placement in high-demand sectors.

This report examines the Youth/Industry Partnership Initiative (YIPI), an 18-month learning initiative that sought to learn about the ways in which employer-led industry partnerships could address the youth unemployment crisis, particularly among “Opportunity Youth.” For the purpose of this report, Opportunity Youth are defined as those between the ages of 16-24 who are neither working nor in school. The initiative investigated the creation of employment pathways, as well as the pathways’ ability to address employer needs and provide an education and training sequence for Opportunity Youth.

“The National Fund/ JFF YIPI team selected three sites that evidenced growing interest in attracting and preparing young adults: SkillWorks (Boston, MA), Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford (Hartford, CT), and SkillUp (Seattle, WA). An additional three collaboratives, Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (Mobile, AL), Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative (San Francisco, CA), and Central Iowa Works (Des Moines, IA) were invited to participate in the initiative’s learning community” (p. 3).

“Throughout the course of the initiative the YIPI sites tested the roles of key partners, the program design components, the needs of employers, and what assets and supports were most important in engaging employers to offer on-the-job experiences and entry-level jobs to young adults…. Although provisional, this information can serve as a guide to communities exploring how to leverage existing employer consortia and harness key partners in order to build stronger pathways to employment for young adults” (p. 8).

 “The key learning emerging from this initiative is the importance of a collective, place-based effort that is driven by employers and industry partnerships and relies on community providers and education/training providers, as well as local workforce intermediaries, to build high-quality employer-connected pathways. Each stakeholder plays key roles in connecting young adults to employment—all parties must work closely together in order to advance better outcomes” (p.vii).

 (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Creating Pathways to Employment: The Role of Industry Partnerships in Preparing Low-Income Youth and Young Adult for Careers in High-Demand Industries

Major Findings & Recommendations

“The lessons of YIPI outline some of the challenges involved in getting productive employer involvement on a larger scale. It also suggests the complexity of building the capacity of training providers and effectively utilizing key community partners who can provide outreach, support services, and navigation assistance for young people to ensure their success along a pathway continuum. Most importantly YIPI, though small in scale, demonstrates an important emerging alliance among workforce intermediaries, industry partnerships, educational institutions, and youth-serving agencies. Each of these players needs the assistance and support of the others in order to find and prepare the candidates, make the connections, provide the training and work-based opportunities, and organize the pathway to employment. Such collaboration can be enormously important as the economy recovers and the aging workforce retires. For some industries, such as health care, hospitality, and retail, the importance of youth, diversity, and Spanish language skills in their ‘customer facing’ frontline workforce will only increase. In addition, if the United States makes a strong commitment to expand new apprenticeship models, both opportunity youth and [the American] economy will benefit: young adults will benefit from the investment in education and on-the-job training, and the economy will benefit from having a well-educated, stable, young workforce. The building of this youth-serving alliance will take additional research and development, but the YIPI project has proven its potential to both address employer need for skilled talent and youth and young adult need for onramps, training, and continued supports to and through employment” (p.13). (Abstractor: Author)