SPOTLIGHT ON CHARLOTTE
Reimagining a 34-year-old workforce program after COVID-19
Youth across Charlotte are spending their summer training for the future of work.
75 youth are developing new financial technologies with Bank of America.
39 are working to reimagine the city's infrastructure with Siemens.
69 are working to expand healthcare access with Atrium.
39 are developing sustainable innovations with Sealed Air.
74 are designing platforms to support small businesses with Accenture.
All of this is taking place virtually.
Welcome to the next generation of the Mayor's Youth Employment Program (MYEP). For over 34 years, MYEP has provided Charlotte youth with opportunities to explore the world of work, build social capital, and enhance economic mobility.
MYEP VIRTUAL PATHWAYS
Due to COVID-19, MYEP needed to find new opportunities for over 300 youth who were at risk of losing their internships this summer. Radius worked with the program to develop 5 virtual pathways across Charlotte's major sectors.
THE STORY OF MYEP 2.0
Re-engineering a traditional workforce program
When COVID-19 rolled into Charlotte, it became clear that in-person internships were off the table for over 300 participants who were enrolled in MYEP. Dawn Hill, the city's Director of Youth Programs and Business Partnerships, knew that canceling the program was not an option. In Charlotte and around the country, youth depend on programs like MYEP to earn a wage and land an entry point to a better life.
Together with her team and partners in Charlotte, Dawn began to imagine what a virtual experience might look like. She soon found herself on a Zoom call with Austin Halbert, the founder of Radius Learning.
Austin founded Radius after growing up in Shelby, North Carolina, a town with a fighting spirit where opportunities are few and far between. Since graduating from UNC Charlotte, he has built up Radius to expand work-based education pathways with dozens of Fortune 500 firms and academic institutions.
The partnership with MYEP was a natural fit. Together, Radius and MYEP set out to chart out new virtual pathways across Charlotte’s major sectors.
Joining them on the journey were Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and LinkedIn Learning. CMS brought on 20 teachers to serve as virtual guides for participating youth. LinkedIn Learning provided access to a content library of more than 5,000 courses.
Reimagining the role of employers in workforce development
MYEP’s plan for a virtual workforce experience struck a chord with local employers, who provided over $270,000 in scholarships for youth to go through the experience.
Over the weeks to come, Radius worked to develop pathways with leading employers in the region. The model is inspired by apprenticeship models in the Swiss ecosystem, where 70% of students go through training pathways across 230 occupations. Switzerland has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates of 3%.
The guiding question behind expanding pathways in Charlotte: How can we use new technologies to modernize the apprenticeship-style system here at home, increasing access to opportunity for those who need it most?
Building pathways to simulate the jobs of the future
The Radius team worked with guidance from employers to develop virtual pathways aligned with local industries. Charlotte employers shared learning & development content and information on their skills profiles, which Radius then incorporated into 5-week pathway experiences for MYEP participants.
In a matter of weeks, the team designed 5 pathways, each with over 50 hours of skills-based tasks simulating future jobs. Each pathway was aligned with an overall project related to a real-world challenge in the community: Pathways consist of:
Skills development provided in partnership with Radius Learning and LinkedIn Learning
Work-based adventures to expose participants to the tasks they will face in future roles
Coaching sessions with team leads from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Industry interactive sessions with representatives from local employers
Life skills sessions focused on developing confidence and professional habits
This design allows youth to go through a 360° experience that touches on:
The head (what knowledge and skills do you need to succeed in the future of work?)
The hands (how can you apply those skills to strengthen your talent?)
The heart (how can you contribute those talents towards improving our society?)
Launching a virtual workforce ecosystem of 300
On Monday, July 6, more than 300 youth across Charlotte logged on to begin their journey into the future of work. They were introduced to their pathways by a band of leading executives from partner employers:
Charles Bowman, Charlotte Market President - Bank of America
Marc Hamer, Chief Innovation Officers - Sealed Air
Jessica Townsend, Global Blockchain Lead - Accenture
Gerard Camacho, AVP of Learning & Development - Atrium
Roger Collins, Apprenticeship Manager - Siemens Energy
By that afternoon, the participants were developing skills, completing work-based tasks, and solving real challenges.
Youth are now completing their third week in the pathways. Each week, they have gone through a comprehensive virtual program designed to prepare them with skills, provide them with social capital, and help them discover their talents.
MYEP Virtual Pathways is now on the forefront of workforce development in the region, providing youth with their best chance at finding an entry point to a meaningful career and a fulfilling life.
Expanding pathways to opportunity
MYEP is one of few summer youth employment programs nationally that have managed to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic. Moving forward, the partners recognize that the need for virtual workforce education is accelerating and increasing in intensity.
The MYEP team is already looking towards leveling up the virtual experience in 2021 and beyond. The program is committed to adapting to the needs of youth and continuing to serve as a leader in the local workforce ecosystem.
In parallel, Radius is working to expand pathways where they are needed most, in Charlotte and across the state of North Carolina. The organization is charting out a roadmap to expand pathways across levels 1 - 5 (from high school to community college to advanced university studies).
Their model has been designed to deliver pathways as an add-on to workforce programs and traditional degrees. Radius is now looking to join forces with partners in North Carolina and across the U.S. to help equip employers and education partners to respond to the workforce transitions in the coming months and years.
As we move forward through these uncertain times, it is clear that we need to rethink pathways from education to employment that work for our people. MYEP Virtual Pathways is an early example of what it can look like to rapidly modernize workforce solutions at the regional level.
To learn more about the MYEP program, contact Dawn Hill at email@example.com
To learn more about Radius, contact Austin Halbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the role that LinkedIn Learning is playing in skills development, contact Charlie Gill at email@example.com