Since its inception in 1999, YouthWorks, Commonwealth Corporation’s summer job program for teens and young adults, has relied on employer partnerships. YouthWorks requires understanding employers who are willing to help coach young adults through what is often their first job. Without them, this program would be impossible.
Employers, in turn, have the opportunity to do “job try-outs” with young people.
Cheryl Stanuchsensk, owner of the Dairy Queen in South Lawrence, says that the summer job program allows her to test out employees for six weeks to see if they can adjust to the environment. “I look for kids who understand that this is a food business—they need to be able to follow the rules and have a good attitude with customers,” she says. This past summer, Cheryl was so pleased with her YouthWorks placement that she hired a young woman to stay on past the program’s completion.
In addition to the opportunity to test out employees, by partnering with YouthWorks, employers across the Commonwealth have access to a pool of qualified applicants from which they can hire. Each summer, all YouthWorks participants go through at least of 15 hours of training with CommCorp’s Signal Success Curriculum.
Signal Success is a comprehensive curriculum designed and tested by education and workforce development partners to help young people develop essential skills for future success. It instills important soft skills they need to be successful at work such as communication, collaboration, dependability and initiative.
Peter Blain, a Manager at Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership with Baystate Health says, “department employees who host students for work experiences often say that it is not as important what students know when they arrive as it is what they are willing to learn and do. Motivation, initiative, dependability, and teamwork are essential to success in the workplace. The Signal Success Work Readiness program, in which our students participate, teaches students to understand this process and begin their work experience from a position of strength.”
And most important of all, young adults involved in YouthWorks benefit by working with employers who are willing to mentor them in the early stages of their career. Tom Thibeault, Executive Director of the Brockton Housing Authority and longtime partner of YouthWorks, speaks of his experience working with young adults in the program:
“Many of the youth and staff have developed mentoring relationships that continue long after the employment has ended. The Authority now employs several former program participants as permanent part time employees. A number of our fulltime employees have worked in the program and are now an integral part of our organization. There have been many moving moments as the staff shares in the proud moments when the young workers are accepted to college or gain full time employment. Many of the workers spend their entire college career returning for work during their winter and summer breaks.”
Interested in becoming an employer partner? Visit the YouthWorks page to learn more about the program.