A team from Worksystems was among a delegation of Portland-based organizations that traveled to Washington, DC in early March to take part in a gathering designed to create positive outcomes for young people affected by violence or involved with the justice system. The Youth Systems Building Academy, hosted by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, was a three-day summit focused on creating skill-building and income-generating opportunities for youth facing barriers to employment.
The Portland area was one of nine communities selected to participate in the summit. Joining the Worksystems representatives were leaders and staff from the Juvenile Services Division of Multnomah County’s Dept. of Community Justice, as well as from Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center.
“It was of tremendous value to have such intentional and collaborative space created with our partners to form deeper organizational relationships, discuss shared goals, and begin to map out how we can coordinate our work to achieve better results for young people in our community,” said Worksystems Senior Project Manager Sara Weihmann, who attended the summit. “We discussed strategies for incorporating youth voices responsibly into our planning and evaluation process to ensure a robust and diverse menu of programs to meet the variety of needs experienced by young people in community. Also, the importance of designing meaningful ways to collect, share, and measure data to ensure successful outcomes for participants. Other communities participating in the Academy articulated similar goals and the thought of collaborating on a national level around solutions and sharing best practices is very exciting!”
The summit was part of a new Dept. of Labor initiative called Youth Employment Works
The summit was part of a new, larger Dept. of Labor initiative called Youth Employment Works, which places a priority focus on youth and young adult employment and workforce development. According to the department, Youth Employment Works aims to:
- Deliver a “no wrong door” youth workforce system that offers seamless access to supportive services and workforce development opportunities for youth and young workers.
- Increase public and private commitments to youth and young adult career pathways, such that businesses, employers, labor organizations, training partners, and philanthropy across all sectors invest in high-quality pathways for young people, building a strong basis for the future workforce.
- Offer guaranteed paid work experiences so that all young people can access and participate in high-quality, career pathway-aligned work experiences that are safe and age-appropriate.
The Dept. of Labor’s renewed focus on youth workforce development is welcome, said Barbara Timper, Worksystems’ youth services manager.
“It’s been over 20 years since the last time the Labor Dept. had a strategic vision for youth,” Timper said. “The Youth Employment Works initiative has created a framework in partnership with other federal departments that will support the need for and ongoing development of private-sector partnerships that are key to youth engagement in career pathways leading to self-sufficiency wages. Best practices and strategies will be available through a single resource at the federal level.”
To learn more about Youth Employment Works, visit https://blog.dol.gov/2023/03/15/youth-employment-works. To learn more about how Worksystems supports Portland-area youth, visit https://worksystems.org/our-approach/youth-investments.