This summer, 201 Alexandria youth participated in a six-week virtual workforce experience during the Workforce Development Center’s Youth Employment Services (YES) 2020.
The annual summer employment program, which was provided virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is part of WDC’s TeensWork! program, which is designed to help youth ages 14-24 obtain and retain employment year round. The summer program gives youth summer income, work experience, essential workplace skills and opportunities for career exploration.
This year, WDC provided career development and education opportunities through live webinars, small group video meetings, one-on-one coaching, self-paced individual learning, and other online experiences. Twenty-seven youth also participated in worksite experiences.
Through the program, youth had opportunities to participate in live WDC job readiness and training webinars, self-paced modules provided by Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Academy and online speaker events that covered topics ranging from identifying skills, creating a resume and navigating virtual job fairs to interviewing skills and how to succeed in a new job.
In addition, each participant was also assigned a counselor, who provided weekly online group gatherings focusing on job skills and training topics as well as one-on-one meetings.
Feedback from participants has been positive, says Employment and Training Specialist Octavius Fulton, who coordinates the program. In a survey after the event, 99% of those that responded stated that they were either satisfied (74%) or very satisfied (24%) with the experience, and 98% stated that the experience prepared them to be a more effective worker.
“The youth were thankful for the opportunity to learn information and skills to help them obtain their career goals and objectives,” Fulton says. “The experience also opened their eyes to different opportunities and interests that they may have.”
One participant found the Skills to Succeed modules to be particularly helpful for learning various workplace readiness skills. “I enjoyed how the lessons catered to many specific details regarding resume writing, self-reflection and career choices,” says Najee Dillard. “I also found this resource to be engaging and entertaining as it provided different activities and perspectives regarding the subjects we covered.”
Fulton and his team, who had only a few months to adapt the in-person program to a virtual format, are planning to adapt some of the online components into the TeensWork! Program to continue some of the program elements into the fall school year. “We see it as a way to continue the program and build on the experience that youth gained through the summer,” says Fulton.
WDC is a trusted resource, providing services and expertise to support job seeker and employer workforce needs in Alexandria. A certified One Stop Center, WDC serves a variety of skill levels, from those with advanced degrees and years of experience to those with limited education and experience. WDC also provides a range of services at no cost to businesses.
In July, WDC launched “Strive & Thrive: Helping Alexandria Stay Resilient & Get Back to Work” to support Alexandria’s workforce and employers by offering events, services and training remotely and online, including virtual recruitment events, online job readiness and essential skills workshops, a redesigned job board and informational sessions for employers and job seekers
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