6 Tips for Creating a Culture of Workforce Readiness

BGCA’s Stacy Ruff is back with some ways to infuse your Workforce Readiness strategy throughout the Clubhouse.

September is Workforce Development month and we are wrapping up with some ideas you can start using right away! Creating a culture of workforce readiness is super important to creating a Club Experience that ensures members graduate with a plan for the future. That culture comes when staff incorporate workforce development into everyday Club life and in every program area. Incorporate these steps to help Club professionals and teens to naturally think of the Club as a place that prepares youth for their future.  

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Dedicate Space

While not all Clubs may be able to dedicate an entire room to workforce development, allocating space in the Club or Teen Center specifically for college and career exploration will go a long way in incorporating it into your Club’s culture. The ideal space would include: 

  • Access to at least one computer for members to use for resume writing, job searches, college and career exploration, and online assessments and activities
  • Up-to-date college and career literature (Clubs can reach out to local college for promotional materials and can find resources on StudentAid.gov)
  • Tables and open space for members to collaborate and conduct research, host parent college nights, and run programs like Career Launch
  • Visual aids to help teens “feel” the connection between their daily Club experience and their plans for the future
  • Career cluster and sample pathways
  • Public job posting boards
  • Bulletin board displays that highlight teens who have started working
  • Motivational posters
  • Resource and Opportunity folders that have up-to-date resources like the This Way Onward program or current scholarship opportunities

Decorate Shared Spaces

In addition to creating a dedicated space, decorating shared spaces with college and career themed materials can further integrate workforce development throughout the Club. Posters or other kinds of displays in each area of the Club can highlight related career opportunities youth could explore and consider (e.g., basketball court – sports medicine, ticket sales; kitchen – agriculture, culinary arts; administrative office – finance, human resources).  Learn how to create your own posters and décor online free in this ClubX Blog post.

Model Workplace Behaviors

“Practice makes perfect.” The Club can be the most comfortable place for kids and teens to begin practicing essential soft skills they will need in the workplace. Greet teens with a firm handshake every day to get them comfortable with this practice. Encourage them to make eye contact when speaking to Club professionals. Integrate job‐related skill‐building throughout all Club programs (e.g., Keystone, athletics, arts, SMART programs) to model relevant workplace skills: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Attendance/punctuality
  • Professional communication, including e-communication
  • Public speaking

Involve All Club Professionals

Even if your organization has a dedicated workforce development professional, creating a culture of workforce development is not the job of one person. All Club professionals, no matter their formal role in the Club, are imparting wisdom, skills and experiences, which in turn develop the future workforce. Encourage all Club professionals to embrace their role as “workforce developers.” Be intentional about making workforce‐related words more common during regular interactions (e.g., “career,” “skills,” “resume‐building,” “plan,” and “next steps”). 

Engage Corporate & Local Business Volunteers

Frequent exposure to a variety of career professionals can inspire teens to consider careers they might never have thought of before. Consider tapping into board members’ companies, local businesses and entrepreneurs to recruit volunteers to join the Club community. Whether assisting with homework, facilitating workshops or mentoring youth, business volunteers can: 

  • Provide an example of workplace attire
  • Speak with young people about their careers
  • Share their personal journeys to inspire youth

Give Teens a Voice

As with all other teen programs, listening to the voice of teens when planning is what generates buy‐in and creates a sense of ownership. Allow teens to set their expectations for each other, as well as the Club, to promote work‐readiness behaviors and hold each other accountable. Ask members which skills they would like to learn or practice at the Club. Ask for their ideas for unique ways to make the Club feel like college and career topics are important. Seeking input from teens will go a long way to help solidify a culture of workforce development at your Club.

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Want to learn more about Workforce Readiness programming? Visit the College and Career Readiness Program Page on BGCA.net and the Workforce Development Toolkit, a website dedicated to getting BGCA staff the resources and tools they need to implement workforce development strategy. We’ve also got two Workforce Wednesday webinars you can watch on demand:

How have you created a culture of Workforce Readiness? What are your most successful teen programs? Let us know by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or by emailing ClubXBlog@bgca.org.

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