Late last week, Miguel Salinas, Program Director for Adobe Youth Voices, traveled to Chicago to join a working group on youth development hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative. The working group, called Reconnecting Youth: Empowering America’s Untapped Talent, was attended by representatives from several major companies across a variety of economic sectors, and focused on exploring ways that organizations can come together to provide opportunities for young people to reengage in education and the workplace.
The working group brainstormed ideas to connect young people with skill building opportunities, and discussed the importance of making a clear connection for young people between the skills they acquire in an educational setting and real life work experiences and opportunities.
“When you think about the youth we are reaching through Adobe Youth Voices, we really want to figure out opportunities and work experiences to set them on a path for college or a career,” said Miguel, connecting the dots between the working group and the priorities that Adobe Youth Voices will continue to set as a program in coming years.
One of the issues the working group discussed was the necessity of encouraging young people to understand the role that internships play in professional development, and of finding ways to make internships a realistic option for young people. “Many corporations have a focus on internships with an eye towards nurturing talent, and eventually will offer permanent positions to their interns who demonstrate professional aptitude and promise,” observes Miguel, who believes the internship experience can be a crucial stepping stone towards building a career. Making internships a possibility for young people from all backgrounds is one of several methods of creating parity in the workforce.
Another outcome of the discussion was a growing awareness of the importance of creating “multiple pathways” to professional opportunities. The group explored the ways in which community colleges and certification programs can play a role in preparing young people for the workforce, in addition to the traditional emphasis placed on four year colleges and universities.
By attending the working group, Miguel says he not only received a better perspective on contemporary beliefs regarding workforce development, but also on what other companies are currently doing with career readiness programs. “Adobe Youth Voices is always looking for ways to reach young people who want to take their skills to the next level,” says Miguel, and participating in this national dialogue was an opportunity for thought leaders in the field of youth development to build on each other’s ideas and chart a pathway towards an enriching future.