Monday, June 25, 2012

Rethinking the Youth Employment Field

JFNYC Executive Director Lou Miceli and Chris Sturgis, a founding member of the Youth Transition Funders Group, recently had a chance to speak about strategies for reinvigorating, refocusing and rethinking the youth employment field. 

Reflecting on how funding streams directly impact the youth employment field, Lou shared with Chris his observation that the young adult workforce field has become reactive rather than proactive to public funding streams in particular, and that the heavy reliance amongst practitioners on this slow trickle down of money has actually hurt the field by pitting organizations against each-other. 

Additionally, by prescribing standardized, rigid goals and outcomes for workforce organizations, this system actually discourages creativity, freedom, and risk-taking amongst service providers, which in effect does a great disservice not only to workforce practitioners themselves, but more importantly to the young people they serve.

Chris summarized her reflections and takeaways from their discussion in two recent blog posts on the Youth Transition Funders Group's blog, Connected by 25

Her first post, "Time to Pro-Act: An Interview with Louis Miceli", discusses how funders could help the field by "raising the investment bar" and rewriting the rule book to encourage a more proactive and creative environment.

Her second post, "Lose the Rule Book", outlines three starting points for thinking about reinvigorating the workforce system: change the rules, innovate through intermediaries, and embrace "consilience"--a strategy of working together and coordinating efforts amongst stakeholders in order to forge new paths for young people. 

It's this last idea of "consilience" that underlies the workforce partnerships that JFNYC supports, including the Bronx Opportunity Network (BON) and Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN).  By promoting and supporting the efforts of collaboratives such as the BON and LESEN, JFNYC hopes to build capacity, improve practice, and re-imagine young adult workforce services in New York City.

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