HR Dive: Obama Foundation to train high schoolers for the workplace, with a focus on soft skills

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Obama Foundation to train high schoolers for the workplace, with a focus on soft skills

By Riia O’Donnell

Dive Brief:

The Obama Foundation and the Urban Alliance, a nonprofit youth development organization, have announced the Obama Youth Job Corps (OYJC), a new training initiative. OYJC will bring workforce readiness training to 10th and 11th graders on Chicago’s south side, President Obama’s home district, over the next five years.

The program will pilot with local high schools in the Hyde Park area, featuring five workforce readiness training sessions for high school sophomores that will “lay the groundwork for professional development.” Training sessions for juniors will delving into professional development, financial literacy, post-high-school planning, and “increased exposure to the professional world.”

Students who complete the program will be eligible for a 10-month, paid internship through Urban Alliance’s internship program their senior year. The program provides job skills training, work experience, mentoring and support during and after the program, and has been shown to have statistically significant impact on young men attending college, mid-GPA students enrolling in four-year colleges, and students’ retention of professional soft skills.

Dive Insight:

Both businesses, governments and community organizations working to ensure tomorrow’s employees have the skills they need. The push to create future applicant streams of talented, interested students ranges from supply chain management, to tech careers, the sciences and skilled manufacturing. Businesses and educators are even teaming up to plant the seeds for workforce readiness as early as elementary school.

These partnerships will likely continue to grow, especially as the U.S. Department of Labor re-examines and encourages the adoption of apprenticeships as an alternative to four-year degree programs.

Employers also have been clear that the need for improved soft skills is dire, noting that it’s their top training priority for 2018. Technical skills can be taught easier than professionalism, communication, leadership and cooperation, some businesses report.