Exploring What Works in Workforce Development


There is a quiet revolution happening in communities around the world. Workforce and economic developers, school administrators, and forward-thinking corporate executives are collaborating to help youth choose the "right" careers for them. One of the best solutions we have encountered is called "The Exploring Program". This program offers a model that may be copied for young people around the world.

Sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America and the Seneca Waterways Council, The Exploring Program is operated for middle and high school youth in the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes region of New York in the United States. Exploring is a career-education program that allows students to learn more about particular careers through a series of hands-on activities led by working people. Through Exploring, young people mature and prepare themselves to become responsible and caring adults.

Local community organizations initiate an Explorer post by matching their people and program resources to the interests of young people in the community. The result is a program of activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, and develop. Exploring programs are based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education, and leadership experience.

Everyone wins with Exploring. The youth win because they gain career information, insight into their future vocations, plus they enjoy a sense of acceptance and belonging to the “right” group. They participate in adult-like activities, having practical, real, and meaningful hands-on experiences in safe environments. It also keeps them involved in positive youth activities, avoiding negative behaviors. Finally, they have opportunities to try leadership roles and develop their skills, not to mention their chances to develop career and personal skills.

The company's employees benefit as well. Because they are "teaching" young people, they gain greater job awareness, they develop their own leadership and problem-solving skills, and they enjoy the opportunity for greater community involvement.

Finally, the organizations benefit in many ways. Companies develop team-building attitudes within their companies. They have the opportunity to interpret adult occupational roles for youth, while preparing young adults for transition from school to work. The companies demonstrate their visible commitments to the welfare of their communities. In these days of workforce shortages, their biggest win is that they are having opportunities to influence young people to choose them for their first employers, and to ensure their own success into the future by creating this valuable pipeline.

Wise employers, large and small, will do everything they can to reach out in their communities to create programs like this one where everybody wins.###


From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist.


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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