Top experts from Toyota, The Coca-Cola Company and Boys & Girls Clubs of America discuss what it takes to prepare youth for success in life and a career.
Every generation faces challenges, but today’s young people are facing something unique – the impact of a global pandemic. To offer insights into how kids and teens are doing, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is sharing data from our annual survey of Club kids and teens nationwide. Youth Right Now features insights from more than 100,000 Club members aged 9-18, across more than 3,000 Clubs scattered across the United States. To our knowledge, it’s the largest data set in the youth-serving sector and a unique look into how America’s young people are handling the reverberations of the past few years.
Youth Right Now tackles the topics of mental health, safety and potential in the workforce from Club kids themselves, with suggestions for how families, communities, government, schools, and out-of-school providers can better support today’s youth in achieving great futures.
The Life & Workforce Readiness Roundtable panelists have a breadth of experience in the U.S. workforce and bring valuable insights on ways to best support youth in their transition into the workplace.
Jennifer Bateman, senior vice president of Youth Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America has more than 22 years of youth development experience. Jennifer leads Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national youth development programs and develops strategies to help advance positive outcomes for Club kids and teens.
Anthony Allen, human resources group manager at Toyota Motor North America leads talent acquisition programs nationwide and is actively and passionately involved in social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within Toyota.
Jeremy Faa, president, South Zone at The Coca-Cola Company is responsible for roughly 35% of operations across brands, channels and routes to market nationwide, with experience in four continents and multiple cultures, functions and industries.
Through the lens of the experience of these panelists, the roundtable highlighted the unique challenges and opportunities for today’s youth.
The panel covered important topics affecting young people today. Here are a few key takeaways:
As Jennifer points out, there are several barriers for young people these days. Equitable access to opportunities to explore passions, interests and develop skills tops the list.
She also highlights that representation is crucial for the development of young people, particularly as they seek to identify career paths. When they see adults who look like them in a variety of roles, kids are able to dream big and visualize the possibilities for their own lives and career. It’s also important for youth to have opportunities for essential, technical and academic skill development.
Career exploration starts as early as age six when children begin to want to help around home or get creative with their own neighborhood enterprises. Through life and workforce readiness programming at Boys & Girls Clubs, Clubs encourage kids to identify roles that interest them and learn to initiate and see a project through while incorporating opportunities to build financial literacy.
In addition, Club kids also learn soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and emotion management. The Club environment supports holistic, experiential learning of technical and academic skills along with essential soft skills.
Did you know? While 95% of Club members feel they have the skills necessary to be successful in a job, data shows they need support building teamwork and conflict resolution skills.
Both Anthony and Jeremy acknowledge that the pandemic has shifted workplace dynamics across their organizations, particularly for workers with an opportunity to work remotely. In the post-pandemic world, employees seek flexible arrangements that allow them to both contribute to the organization and manage responsibilities in their personal lives.
These changes have impacted organizations and employees in a positive way while requiring adaptability and agility for established workers to keep pace. Anthony notes that this change not only affects the approach to work but has initiated a paradigm shift as employees begin to request that companies accommodate their need for balance.
In order to prepare young people today to thrive in the workplace of the future, they need to build and nurture modern skills — such as technical prowess, agility and adaptability — and be given opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them in a supportive environment.
Did you know? 94% of Club members can work with people who are different than them.
Across the country, many people are confronted with mental health challenges, and young people are no exception. The pandemic exacerbated a decade-long rise in youth mental health concerns; according to Youth Right Now, 70% of kids rate their ability to cope with challenges as medium to very low. For many young people, pandemic restrictions including school closings, social isolation, missed milestones and more could have a lasting impact on their developmental progress, and, in turn, longer-term readiness for the workforce implications.
Jennifer shares that Clubs nationwide recognize the impact they can make on Club kids’ emotional wellbeing, from communicating how they’re feeling to building coping skills that support resilience. In response, Clubs have adopted trauma-informed practice and mental health programming while also addressing the social and learning gaps that were created by the pandemic.
Clubs have stepped in, providing tutoring and academic support in ways that are fun and engaging to ensure young people stay connected and continue to set high goals for schooling and, eventually, career achievement. As a result, Boys & Girls Clubs of America sees resilience in participating youth and enthusiasm for connecting with peers and Club staff. In fact, today’s youth have strong social-emotional awareness, with 90% saying they are able to recognize the emotions they are feeling and understand how their feelings influence their actions.
Employers can also play a crucial role in supporting mental health. It can start by engaging with young people through shadowing, workplace internships, and interacting with them outside of the corporate structure. Prioritizing engagement, interest and motivation helps foster a workplace environment that promotes emotional wellbeing and safety.
The panel continues the discussion about the current workforce landscape and the unique needs of young people in the modern era. We thank our panelists for sharing their insights on these important topics. To watch the recording in its entirety, please click here.
Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation help young people develop the life skills necessary to become problem-solvers, communicators and leaders, so they can find a job they love when they’re ready. Learn how Clubs are preparing young people for college, careers and life.
Statistics highlighted in this article are from Youth Right Now, which features data points from Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth Outcomes Initiative Member Survey.