Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New program aims to reduce joblessness among Philadelphia’s young adults

There are an estimated 45,000 people ages 18-24 without jobs and who are not attending school in Philadelphia, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. One of the biggest challenges they face is obtaining the education, knowledge, and skills that employers demand today. That’s why we’re starting a new partnership with Year Up to better prepare young people for jobs in today’s marketplace.

Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Through a one-year, intensive training program, Year Up provides low-income young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of college credits, hands-on skill development, and corporate internships.

Focusing on innovations that allow for greater scale,Year Up has created the Professional Training Corps (PTC), an innovative program that leverages college partnerships to help students earn a degree while providing them with professional development and work experience closely linked to labor market demand.

PTC has had success in Baltimore and Miami, and is now here in Philadelphia to partner with us at Peirce College. The program has helped students get the hands-on experience and technical skills employers are looking for, and they have 250 corporate partners nationwide.

Here’s how the Professional Training Corps program works in Philadelphia: Students take a full course load over the academic year here at the College; complete a full-time internship at a Fortune 1000 company in the city; and benefit from a range of support services, including professional development, networking opportunities, and life coaching. Upon completion, students will be able to choose to continue their education or go into the workforce with the skills they’ve obtained through the program.

This program is dedicated to supporting its students. Each Year Up staff member works with a group of students and helps them solidify their strengths and build upon their weaknesses in soft skills that employers look for. An experienced team of Year Up staff members have permanent offices right on campus, so they’ll be on hand to answer questions and help facilitate the program.

The program is also innovative in how it keeps students dedicated to their internship and studies. Students receive an educational stipend over the course of the program, and sign a contract upon their admittance. If they do not meet program expectations (such as punctuality and accountability), their stipends are reduced. Conversely, and most importantly, as they meet program milestones and demonstrate commitment and work ethic, they are rewarded. This helps students understand how attitudes, behaviors, and communication skills impact performance in the workplace.

Combining Peirce’s and Year Up’s services creates a stronger structure to help young people increase their job prospects. It’s estimated that 63 percent of jobs in Pennsylvania will require some type of postsecondary education by 2020, according to The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

This is close to the national outlook as well. It is predicted that there will be 55 million job openings in the U.S. through 2020, and 65 percent of those will require postsecondary education or a college degree, also according to the Center.

Year Up’s nationwide results are impressive: 84 percent of PTC alumni continue their education full time or are employed full time within four months of graduation. We believe that Philadelphia’s young people will have the same or better success.

We’re so excited to be partnering with Year Up on this program. We issued a press release today with even more information about the partnership. Keep your eyes on the blog because we’ll be sharing the latest news on our first class each month. We’ll also be featuring guest posts from Year Up staff members on key learnings gleaned from the program and student stories, so stay tuned!

If you want to learn more about Year Up and its mission, watch this video: