By Connor Lang, TE summer intern and Senior at Xavier University
This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Towards Employment (TE). It was an awesome experience and I learned a lot about the work TE is doing in Greater Cleveland.
Working at TE helped me realize how important workforce training and advancement are to the continued success of Cleveland. Before starting at TE I had never really thought about how creating career pathways in different sectors could address so many of the issues that Cleveland faces, including poverty and lack of a skilled workforce.
Now I do not think there is another way to even begin to approach these problems as effectively. The career pathways approach has four critical steps that help individuals achieve their goals of long-term employment: prepare for a job, get a job, keep the job, and advance in a career.
The brilliance of this approach lies in how critical barriers to long-term employment are addressed at each stage. Many people may initially lack the skills necessary to apply for certain positions. Through training programs at TE, they are able to build their skill set and confidence in themselves.
Individuals may also have trouble locating positions for which they are qualified. TE is able to connect individuals to employers that match their newly acquired skillsets. However, getting a job is not where the career pathway approach stops. Many people face barriers to keeping their jobs; TE provides j= career coaches that help individuals overcome these barriers.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, is that after individuals have kept their jobs for an extended period of time, they can begin to advance past entry-level positions in their industry and earn higher wages. After these individuals receive the training necessary and advance to new positions, their prior positions become available to new job seekers that have just finished their TE training program. The career pathways approach is so successful because as individuals advance in their careers, their former positions are open to newly trained job seekers.
While interning at TE, I was able to see the career pathways approach in action. At the graduation ceremonies it is obvious how the job skills training has had a profound effect on everyone in the program.
While the skills they learned are very important, what was most noticeable to me was the confidence everyone had in their abilities and belief in their qualifications for potential jobs after completing the program. That confidence has certainly propelled many TE clients into good jobs and encouraged them to look for ways to advance along their industry career pathway.
My experiences at Towards Employment showed me that workforce training and career pathways programs are essential investments for cities and states. Though I did not know much about such programs when I started at TE, I quickly learned how effective they are in improving the job prospects of individuals and helping those individuals stay employed.
Workforce training and career pathways programs help to bridge the gap between low-skilled workers and good paying, middle-skill jobs. As a result, individuals that go through such programs can get jobs they had previously never even dreamt they could qualify for or even knew existed.