Thursday, October 04, 2007

Creating Pipeline to Jobs & Careers

A couple of days ago I wrote an article about a forum I attended, during which leaders of manufacturing companies talked about workforce development issues.

What I'm concerned about is that business leaders seem to be competing for youth who have reached 10th or 12th grade with the grades and social skills to be able to succeed in an apprentice program, or in a college track.

I think that with the shrinking workforce and competition for skills workers, there won't be enough of these young people to feed the huge economy, and that unless business leaders develop strategies that reach inner city kids, as early as elementary school, this group of young people will continue to drop out before they reach the stage when they would be able to become an apprentice or enter college. Even kids who do graduate from big city public schools may not have the critical thinking and problem solving skills desired by industry, because of the education and policy emphasis of teaching to the tests.

I created a map illustrating my vision that companies encourage volunteers and customers to connect with kids in non school tutor/mentor programs, and that these programs be challenged (and funded) so that they can provide a wider range of enrichment, learning and skill development activities, to go along with tutoring and mentoring.

I'm hosting a conference on November 15 and 16, and I hope business and health care leaders will attend, to discuss ways they can use their resources more strategically to support this pipeline to careers strategy, in multiple locations throughout the Chicago region, and in other major cities, not just in one or two locations.

I hope you'll help me recruit leaders from tutor/mentor programs, as well as from faith groups, businesses, hospitals, colleges and civic groups to participate.

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