The 2017-18 school year is well underway, and Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) youth career readiness programs are in high gear. Since this academic year began, GGP has held training experiences for 1,062 students from Berkshire, Cardinal, Chardon, Newbury, Hershey Montessori and Agape Christian Academy.
Many more will be conducted for these and other schools before the end of school sessions in 2018. In the interest of preparing the workforce pipeline for businesses, GGP has made it an important part of its mission to “prepare tomorrow’s workforce today” through the diverse training experiences that fall under the umbrella of “GGP Youth Workforce Development Program.” These programs were developed in answer to business feedback that they have trouble finding candidates with the hard and soft skills needed to fill open positions.
GGP’s Youth Workforce training experiences have been developed through collaborations with businesses and educators, and are designed for cumulative learning. The key components of the program are 8th Grade Career Awareness events, High School Career Readiness training for grades 10th – 12th; the Ignite Your Career event designed for students in grades 7th – 12th with their caregivers, and the High School Summer Internship Program, which is offered to High School junior and seniors.
“These programs began with a pilot program for nine (9) interns in 2012,” says GGP President Tracy Jemison. “Each year we added new program elements that are helping schools meet academic standards and helping businesses build their pipeline to a future workforce, along with introducing students to rewarding and enriching careers.”
Eighth Grade Career Awareness events take students for day-long field trips to visit a minimum of three businesses each, where they learn about the many and diverse job opportunities that exist in their own backyards. Students have opportunities to interact with professionals in different fields, learn about what types of jobs may interest them, and the schooling or training they would need for those careers. The trips typically include exposure to the fields of manufacturing, service, and healthcare. They could learn about professions in engineering, the trades, medicine, customer service, and more. The businesses enjoy introducing their industries, and many get very creative about how they engage the students.
High School Career Readiness is a training continuum that progresses with each grade level. Day-long workshops are tailored for each age group each year, and include hands-on activities, educational games, and motivational guest speakers. Students are coached in appropriate use of social media and how to resolve conflicts. They learn resume writing, practice interviewing, and complete activities that provide cumulative soft skills training needed in the workplace, such as teamwork, communications, conflict resolution, and problem solving. Seniors complete a personality assessment and learn how all styles contribute strengths. The experience guides students in how to engage and work with all personality types.
Ignite Your Career event was added in 2017. This evening symposium/job fair connects students and their caregivers to career pathways presented by guest business professionals. Families then have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a broad spectrum of businesses to talk about careers options. Businesses are able to promote jobs to their future workforce.
The Internship Program was developed as a means of building connections between businesses and their future workforce. Students apply, as they would for any job. Successful applicants are awarded 6-8 week, paid summer internships with area businesses. Some are given opportunities to be rehired as part-time or full time employees in the future. GGP staff coach students through the interview process and students attend two summer workshops conducted by GGP for additional training in soft skills, workplace behavior, team-building and financial management.
The Program is yielding results. Now in its fifth year of growth, the GGP Youth Workforce Development Program is showing real results. Surveys show on average that of students completing a Career Awareness training event, 90% report feeling more confident and prepared to enter the workforce. GGP gathers some data through student and employer surveys, but the best outcomes arrive through personal success stories the students share: confidence gained, doors opened, and internships, fellowships and co-ops earned as the result of their experiences in the program.
Employers are also seeing results. A growing number of companies who sponsor interns report that they are retaining their student interns beyond their summer internship. 42% of the companies participating offer positions to their interns to continue to work during vacations or breaks. Barbara Titus, V.P. of Sheoga Hardwood Flooring and Paneling says, “The Intern Program has been great for our company. We hired a young man for our sales department who completed the Internship program several years ago. We were so impressed with his professionalism. One of our former interns comes back to work for us during every summer and spring break.”
The GGP Youth Workforce Development Program since inception has provided training experiences for 3,580 students from 14 public, private and parochial schools. Three professional part time staff members coordinate these programs, along with support from hundreds of volunteers from businesses and education fields.
The Program is supported through the annual HomeGrown Geauga event, sponsorships, donations and grant support from The Cleveland Foundation, FirstEnergy Foundation, Fairmount Santrol Foundation and the United Way Youth Fund Distribution Committee. Additionally, GGP has created the Frank Samuel Workforce Development Endowment in memory of GGP founding President Frank Samuel. Proceeds from the endowment as it grows will help sustain the program.
Geauga Growth Partnership is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization created in 2010, which works to retain and grow jobs, contribute to business growth and strengthen the local economy. Geauga Growth Partnership’s mission is to enhance the business climate, encourage job creation, to strengthen economic prosperity and to improve the quality of life for all Geauga County residents.
Pictured In Cover Photo: A Cardinal High School student and a Newbury High School student present the findings of their DiSC assessment.