This week, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to promote partnerships between afterschool providers and businesses so young people can explore career paths and opportunities that help them land their first jobs and thrive in the workforce.
The Youth Workforce Readiness Act would support high-quality programs that help young people gain practical skills and connect them to real-life work experiences and learning opportunities. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Youth Workforce Readiness Act aims to promote partnerships between afterschool providers and businesses to help young people explore career paths and opportunities that will lead to their first jobs and future success in the workforce. The bill would establish a competitive grant through the U.S. Department of Labor to support high-quality programs that help young people gain practical skills and connect them to real-life work experiences and learning opportunities.
The bill focuses on four overarching pillars of youth workforce readiness, which include essential-skill development, career exposure, employability and certification, and work-based learning. Each of these pillars is essential in providing young people with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the workforce.
The first pillar, essential-skill development, emphasizes the importance of supporting social and emotional development through every developmental stage in both formal and informal learning experiences. This includes providing young people with the necessary skills to navigate complex social situations, communicate effectively, and manage their emotions.
The second pillar, career exposure, focuses on providing targeted programming through community business partnerships to provide young people with discovery opportunities, career assessments, planning, and insights into both traditional and non-traditional career fields. This can include mentorship programs, career fairs, and site visits to local businesses.
The third pillar, employability and certification, provides opportunities for young people to gain practical skills and certifications in specific areas that will help them land their first job. This includes training in interviewing, resume writing, financial literacy, and other skills that are necessary for success in the workforce.
The final pillar, work-based learning, emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for young people to apply their skills in real-life, hands-on work experiences through local community business partnerships. This can include internships, apprenticeships, and other experiential learning opportunities.
The Youth Workforce Readiness Act recognizes the critical role that out-of-school time organizations play in preparing young people for success in the workforce. By promoting partnerships between these organizations and local businesses, the bill seeks to create a more seamless transition from school to work for young people, ultimately helping them thrive in their careers and contribute to the growth of their communities.