The U.S. Labor Department has set aside $10 million for what are known as out-of-school time organizations to introduce youth ages 14 to 21 to workforce development.

These are organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, school districts, community organizations, and parent volunteer groups.

Some of these out-of-school time programs run after school until the evening while others operate different hours. They vary in staffing and leadership, available resources, purpose, and contact hours with children.

Through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program, the labor department wants to increase the alignment between workforce and out-of-school programs, and expand job training and workforce pathways for youth.

This includes exploring careers, job readiness and certification, soft skill development, summer jobs, year-round job opportunities, and apprenticeships.

It’s a fact that employers in the U.S. require a skilled and educated workforce. But finding those skilled workers is a challenge for many employers.

Partnerships

In 2019, a majority of Connecticut employers—55%—said it was difficult to find and retain young workers, according to CBIA’s Survey of Connecticut Businesses.

But by 2020, the outlook improved, according to the survey, as only 45% of Connecticut employers said it was difficult to find and retain young workers.

That’s why the department is hoping that with strong partnerships among out-of-school time organizations, local workforce entities, and state and local education agencies, these programs can introduce workforce development to teens and young adults.

The program provides opportunities for workforce readiness, career exploration, career preparation, and career training to connect young adults to the skills needed to become college and career ready.

Exposing youth to career possibilities and mentors based on student interest, aptitude, and labor market needs helps out-of-school time participants gain critical skills through real-world work experiences that enhance their employability, the department said.

Requirements

Grants under this program will be awarded to national out-of-school time non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations with local affiliate networks.

Here’s more information and an application. Applications are due Feb. 4, 2021 by 4 pm.

Applicants must also include the following organizations as required partners on the application:

  • A minimum of one organization involved in administering the workforce development system established under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which are limited to state workforce development boards, local workforce development boards, and Indian and Native American entities as outlined in Section 166 of the Workforce Act
  • A minimum of two employer partners, or an industry/trade association that represents employers
  • A minimum of one state or local education agency (including high schools and school districts) or an alternative education program.

Collaboration

While the required partners reflect collaboration between secondary education, employers and workforce development, DOL strongly encourages applicants to collaborate with other partners that can support and advance the work of the project.

These include organizations functioning as workforce intermediaries, labor-management organizations, community-based organizations, training providers, and service providers. 

They also include organizations that support outreach and training activities, such as industry-led training organizations, industry intermediaries, unions or educational organizations, Small Business Development Centers, American Job Centers, community organizations that provide social support and/or wrap-around services, YouthBuild programs, Job Corps centers, WIOA youth programs, foundations and philanthropic organizations, and federally funded youth-serving programs.