The Workforce is Getting Younger, Increase Opportunities Accordingly

March 17, 2015
Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a white paper titled, Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for Successful Strategy, to provide employers with proven approaches to onboarding programs for young adults. In the white paper, we lay out five essential elements of successful program implementation. Over the coming weeks, we will elaborate on each essential element for success on our blog. This week, we look at essential element #2.
 

Essential Element #2: Expand your talent sources

A common barrier in developing a youth talent pipeline is that companies are not sure how best to find well-suited young adults. This is particularly true for companies that want to add diversity, or whose industry is not readily appealing to potential candidates. Most strategies can be distilled to the following advice: Go to where the youth are, or partner with an expert that can help you.
 
“Like every company, we’re well aware that our workforce [pipeline] is getting younger and more diverse, and that we need to increase opportunities accordingly,” says State Farm’s Kathy Havens Payne. To ensure the availability of both young and diverse talent, the company looks outside of the regional market surrounding its Bloomington, Illinois, headquarters, to metro areas like Dallas, Atlanta, and Phoenix— areas that more accurately reflect the demographics of its customer base, including young adults. The company has held massive job fairs in these areas to raise awareness of State Farm’s career opportunities. 
 
As noted earlier, being proactive does not equate with going it alone. Companies look to partner with nonprofits—such as Year Up, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, Genesys Works, i.c. stars, or Boston PIC—because these organizations specialize in training low-income young adults to be work-ready. One of the greatest value-adds of an intermediary organization is its inherent vetting process.
 
Determining a young person’s organizational fit is of great benefit to both the employer and the employee. Moreover, several interviewees noted that because the training is so targeted, both in terms of applicable hard skills and soft skills, employers report that the young adults who are sent to them are sometimes better prepared than their more privileged counterparts. 
 
One example, YUPRO, is a public benefit corporation dedicated to advancing the careers of talented young adults who are trained and ready to be effective. YUPRO matches Year Up alumni with employers eager to hire a new generation of employees who have the technical skills, unique resilience, and tenacity necessary to be successful. YUPRO offers employers a socially responsible alternative to traditional talent acquisition approaches, and they benefit from a work-ready addition to their team.
 
As another option, companies can also use the online Grads of Life to find trusted partners in their geographic area and other valuable information. This tool provides a wealth of information about getting started (including business-goal setting and vision of success), finding the right partner (including setting expectations for what expertise they will bring), laying the groundwork for a successful collaboration, and measuring success and scaling efforts. This important last point covers both quantitative measures, such as the expenses incurred, and qualitative measures, such as satisfaction levels. 
 
Next week we will examine essential element #3: Examine business policies that inhibit youth hiring.
 
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