A “Win-Win-Win:” Research shows impact of private-public partnerships in job training

Photo courtesy Cameron Karsten Photography for Seattle Colleges 2018 marketing campaign at Seattle Central College.

Seattle is enjoying impressively low unemployment rates—the lowest point in 2018 so far was 2.8 percent in April. With so few workers to go around, how is an employer to fill open positions?

The answer to that question, for many employers, is investing in workforce development—that is, making sure that prospective future employees are trained and prepared to fill in-demand positions.

According to a new study from the National Skills Coalition, about 80 percent of jobs in the U.S. require candidates to have some form of training or education beyond high school. This doesn’t mean that most workers will be required to get a four-year degree to be successful. About 53 percent of jobs in our labor market are “middle skill,” meaning they require training beyond high school but not a college degree, according to the same study. However, only 43 percent of workers have the training they need to qualify for these middle skill jobs.

The need for middle skilled workers is apparent in several important industries right here in King County: the Seattle Jobs Initiative projects that there will be shortages of hundreds of workers to fill openings in teaching, nursing and computer support in the coming years, for example.

In order to fill these positions, employers are joining forces with community partners to connect adults with the skills they need to be successful. Community colleges have proven to be particularly effective partners in workforce development efforts locally, and across the country.

Through the Office of Economic Development’s investment in the Seattle Colleges’ Center for Working Adults, (CWA)  the college is working to ramp up its capacity for public-private partnerships. For employers, CWA represents a pivotal partner for talent recruitment, retention, and advancement.

Seattle Colleges have a legacy of developing effective employer-training partnerships. For example, Vigor Industrial is the leading provider of shipbuilding, complex fabrication and ship repair and conversion in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska; they need welders. South Seattle College leases training space from Vigor, administers a welding program, and pays instructor salaries. Vigor currently hires about 50 percent of the students into welding, fitting, fabricating, and other trades positions, and has a list of other employers that other grads are often referred to. An entry-level employee can expect to make an average of $21 per hour as a pre-apprentice.

As a recent report from the Seattle Jobs Initiative details, local private-public partnerships in job training, like Vigor’s, are a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. Colleges improve the quality and relevance of their training programs, students improve their employment prospects, and employers secure a pipeline of workers who have the specific skills they need.

Participating in job training programs saves businesses money. The Seattle Jobs Initiative’s study of Shoreline College’s program, for example, found that businesses saved thousands of dollars on both training and labor costs. Partnering with community organizations is especially helpful for small businesses, which are less able to shoulder the costs of training staff on their own.

The Office of Economic Development continues to support partnerships that bridge the skills gap between workers and employers. Have questions or ideas? Reach out to us at oed@seattle.gov.

Seattle Youth Employment Initiative celebrates employers and youth

Thousands of youth were offered employment opportunities with private and public sector employers across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative in 2018. The program has provided 9,624 paid internships for low-income and marginalized young people in the past three years.

“I want to thank all the employers and young people who participated in the Seattle Youth Employment Initiative,” said Rebecca Lovell, Acting Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development said. “Investing in young workers is a win-win. Employers have an opportunity to mentor their future employees, and young people are better positioned for a healthier, more financially secure future.”

“We are committed to ensuring youth have a window into the economy, through career-connected learning, exploration, and experiences,” Rebecca Lovell, Acting Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development continued. “We are fortunate to partner with employers who have committed to developing their future workforce, in part through engaging youth in summer employment. Along with our partners, we are focused on ensuring young people of color have equitable access to such opportunities as early as possible.”

To support the effort, JPMorgan Chase awarded the City of Seattle $100,000 this year to fund youth internships and the City’s program that helps recruit employers. With this year’s donation, JPMorgan Chase has now donated $1 million over the last five years.

As a first-time funder this year, Bank of America joined the City’s youth employment efforts and invested $50,000 in support. Bank of America also supports the initiative through employing interns at a number of Seattle-based financial centers.

Swedish Hospital contributed $30,000 to host interns at its offices this year. Other donors include the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Google, and the Seattle Music Commission.

Through the Youth Employment Initiative, eligible youth and young adults are connected with paid work experience in positions at various City departments and other public and private sector placements based on their career interests. The City is also collaborating with partners to provide other creative career exploration activities for young people, where students have the opportunity to learn about potential jobs and network with employers and workers.

Youth employment provides skills necessary for young people who otherwise would be left out of the labor market and has been shown to have positive effects on lifetime employment, earnings, and net worth.  Internships also help young people build a network of caring adults, practice employment skills in a supported environment and connect their education to career goals. This is particularly critical for marginalized and low-income youth, who may lack family or community networks to help guide them towards a successful career.

“Youth employment is a platform for the future, and JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping organizations make long-term investments in increasing the number of job opportunities available to our local youth. We feel our support of the Mayor’s summer youth employment program is an important way we are helping to build the long-term success of the local economy,” said JPMorgan Chase Chairman of the Pacific Northwest, Phyllis Campbell. ”We take great pride in our history of supporting organizations and programs that strengthen access to opportunities for youth and we commend the important work of the summer youth employment program.”

Partnering with the Seattle Youth Employment Initiative is part of Bank of America’s $40 million commitment to reach 100,000 young adults with job skills and employment experiences,” said Kerri Schroeder, Seattle Market President, Bank of America. “Youth unemployment limits income mobility well into adulthood, so we’re excited this program targets historically underserved youth and young adults in Seattle and provides a unique opportunity to build their resumes, serving as a catalyst for future economic success and mobility, as well as advancing the long-term success of our community.”

Last year, over 3,000 local youth were employed at organizations and companies across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative. This year we expect to serve approximately 4,000 youth.

For employers who are interested in working with the City of Seattle to help young people reach their full potential, reach out to oed@seattle.gov.

Career exploration day connects youth to opportunity in the maritime industry

Students aboard the SS Virginia V.

This summer, the Youth Maritime Collaborative’s first-ever South Lake Union Day event provided a chance for youth who are participating in internships or training programs to learn about maritime career opportunities, get hands-on experience with real maritime skills, and explore the history behind transportation and industry in the Puget Sound region.

Sponsored by the Port of Seattle, the all-day event featured hands-on activities from SS Virginia V and partnering organizations including The Center for Wooden Boats, Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), Northwest Seaport, and Puget Sound Maritime. Over a hundred students from six local youth-serving organizations—King County Airport interns, Goodwill Youth Maritime Program, WA-BLOC (Washington Building Leaders of Change), Seattle Skills Center Vessel Operations Program, Port of Seattle and SS Virginia V–split into groups and rotated through several stations throughout the day.

At the first station, students boarded the historic Virginia V and were taken on a voyage around Lake Union. Crewmembers provided narration of departure and docking procedures, gave tours of the engine room and wheelhouse, and performed demonstrations of knot tying and firefighting basics.

A scavenger hunt inside MOHAI was a chance for students to explore the exhibit and learn about local maritime history. The Center for Wooden Boats’ station gave students a chance to row out together on an umiaq (a type of open skin boat, similar to a canoe, historically used by Yupik and Inuit peoples), while Northwest Seaport’s station took students aboard the 1911 halibut schooner, Tordenskjold, to learn about the fishing industry.

Students on the Virginia V learn about the engine’s operations from a crewmember.

The value of this kind of career exploration was clear from speaking with one student aboard the Virginia V expedition. A high schooler enrolled in Freedom School, the student got to know a few crewmembers and had the chance to ask them questions about the ship’s operations. The student expressed a goal of majoring in mechanical engineering at Washington State University: “I don’t really know what I want to do in mechanical engineering, but it’s something I definitely have an interest in.” Crewmembers were eager to answer the student’s many questions about their work, particularly in the engine room, where the student’s interest in engineering was apparent as he asked about all of the vessel’s many moving parts.

On his way out, one of the crewmembers said goodbye to the student with a handshake and a pamphlet with information about the Virginia V’s volunteer program, saying, “Hopefully I’ll see you here in a couple weeks!” Coming into South Lake Union Day, the student didn’t know that volunteering at a place like the Virginia V was an option. Now, he has personal connections with the crew and knows that he will be welcomed back.

That student, and many others like him, left South Lake Union Day with a new understanding of the maritime industry and the careers they could pursue in the field. Over one third of students who responded to an after-event survey said that they are now more interested in pursuing a maritime career than they were before the experience.

Maritime is a huge and vital industry with an aging workforce. In response to this growing need for workers in the industry, the Youth Maritime Collaborative was founded in 2016, comprised of members from the Port of Seattle, regional maritime organizations, youth serving organizations, industry leaders, educational programs and local government agencies. As a team, YMC works to increase awareness of and guide youth toward maritime-related careers through experiential events, high school internships and thoughtful career exploration.

The Office of Economic Development’s partnership with YMC is part of a larger effort to provide opportunities that give young people a window into Seattle’s economy and how they can join the maritime workforce. Employer tours, experiential learning events, and internships expose youth to maritime education and career pathways; events like South Lake Union Day show students first-hand that there are exciting, rewarding, living-wage jobs waiting for them in maritime that they may have otherwise never known about.

Have ideas for other career exploration experiences, or interested in finding out about upcoming events? Contact us at oed@seattle.gov.

Zillow Group’s Shadow an Intern Day inspires youth to think creatively about their careers

A Zillow Group employee leads a student tour.

This summer, Zillow Group hosted an innovative new event for local high school students aimed at helping kids envision their future careers and learn skills to set themselves up for success. The “Shadow an Intern” event brought high schoolers from TAF Academy, YWCA, and the Seattle Housing Authority to Zillow Group’s downtown headquarters.

“Giving back to the community where we live and work is an important part of who we are at Zillow Group,” said Samantha Tripoli, Social Impact Manager, Zillow Group. “By hosting students from a variety of organizations across the area – including our Home Project partner Seattle Housing Authority – it is our goal to introduce them to careers in STEM that are within their reach, right here in their backyard.”

To start the day, the kids split into groups and paired up with current Zillow Group interns and employees who guided their groups up and down the tower of office space, answering questions and introducing staff from teams across the company. Meeting the different departments gave students the chance to see the breadth of their career options at a big company like Zillow Group—they could be a storyteller on the communications team, a hacker with the security team, an economist on the data analysis team, an event planner on the facilities team, and much more.

A panel of Zillow Group employees presents to the group of students.

The tour was followed by a short panel with a few Zillow Group employees who shared their career stories and advice on looking for jobs. One panelist encouraged students to get to know people in companies or industries that they are interested in, since having a connection can help get one name to the top of a stack of hundreds of applications. Another advised the youth to “spend a lot of time prepping for interviews, get to know the company,” speaking to her own experience in what she looked for as a hiring manager.

After lunch, the kids split into groups again for an afternoon spent working on a new product and designing a website to market their idea. Working with a Zillow Group staff member, the students came up with a concept for a new home product, created a prototype, and prepared a three-minute commercial. The students then got a crash course in coding by working one-on-one with a Zillow Group intern to build a webpage for their new product.

The high schoolers ended their day by reflecting on what they learned and thinking about what job they would want at Zillow Group. (After a day spent looking out at the tower’s Elliot Bay views, plus the never-ending snacks from Zillow Group’s many staff kitchens, the consensus seemed to be “I definitely want to work here one day,” as one student put it.)

Zillow Group’s Shadow an Intern event was a creative way to get young people excited about their future careers, which is especially important for students coming from low-income households who might be lacking connections, resources and career support from their family. The Office of Economic Development looks forward to working with Zillow Group and other employers in the future to connect youth with internships and other career experiences.

While not every business has the means to host interns through the City’s youth employment program, employers can always find creative ways to support Seattle’s future workforce. To get ideas on how you can connect with your next generation of employees, reach out to us at oed@seattle.gov.

Youth employers prepare for summer interns’ first day on the job

Last year, over 3,000 local youth were employed at organizations and companies across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative. This spring, employer partners old and new prepared to host 2018’s round of summer interns through a series of trainings and workshops provided by the City and Educurious. New this year was an Equity and Community Building training, aimed at preparing intern supervisors to have meaningful, productive and welcoming relationships with their interns.

The Initiative connects low-income youth who experience racial, social and economic disparities with professional opportunities they may not otherwise have access to. The Equity and Community Building training focused on helping managers understand their own biases and learn to create an inclusive workplace, so that interns will be set up for success in what will be, for many, the first professional experience of their lives. “This matters, if we’re bringing interns into organizations that might be predominantly white,” said Maketa Wilborn, one of the employer training facilitators, during the third and final round of training offered.

Wilborn and co-facilitator Fleur Larsen led the group of employers from across the private and public sectors through the three-hour agenda. The class unpacked the meaning of diversity, a word that “has been played-out” and that too often “centers whiteness” as Wilborn put it, and discussed the importance of centering equity in all work.

“Presenters like Fleur and Maketa want to hear what diversity means to each individual who chose to participate and help people come to their own conclusions about how they can make changes, if any, within their organization to be more welcoming and open to diversity of all kinds,” said Educurious’s Blake Konrady. “My favorite quote from the training is ‘my normal is not your normal’ and trying to understand different perspectives in the workplace.”

After a crash course in understanding systemic racial inequity, participants were asked to stand and move to different corners around the room depending on where they grew up. Once grouped by geography, the class partnered up to examine cultural norms they live and operate with, both in terms of the area they live in but also in terms of the sector they work in. Seattle’s reputation for passive-aggressive communication came up, for example, and representatives from nonprofit organizations in the room discussed the common issue of white saviorism in their lines of work.

Intern supervisors were asked to examine their own unconscious biases and learn to overcome feelings of defensiveness, guilt or resentment that can come up as a result of having those biases revealed. Larsen and Wilborn shared advice from previous summer interns on what made their work experiences valuable, and how their supervisors made them feel welcome and supported.

Participants left the class with a set of culturally responsive strategies to help ensure that interns would feel that they truly belonged in their host organization throughout their internship. One employer said the training “reframed my view of why we have interns at our organization,” while another said it helped them understand “what bias is and that you can ‘be a good person’ and still have engrained biases.” As a result of the training, one supervisor said, “I will spend more time getting to know my interns as individuals, and carve out time to mentor them daily.”

2018 summer internships begin this month and end on August 31. Learn more about the Inititaive here, and find more information on how you can get involved on our website.