By Chris Warland, Associate Director for Field Building, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
In order to operationalize our team’s belief that everyone who wants to work should have a job, we need to ensure that everyone who seeks employment services receives meaningful assistance.
But that doesn’t always happen.
All too often the people who are most in need of help in finding and keeping a job are the ones least likely to get that help. Instead, employment service providers may be unwilling or ill-equipped to serve jobseekers deemed “not ready” for work or “not motivated” to participate in programming. Or programs may have rules, policies, schedules, structures, or eligibility requirements that make it more difficult for jobseekers who face more barriers to access and remain in programming. For those of us committed to providing employment opportunities to every jobseeker, it is essential to identify and address all the ways in which people can be excluded from employment services.
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
In preparation for an upcoming best practice guide on employment services for youth, we’ve spent the past few weeks in conversation with practitioners and program administrators in the field to gather and lift up their expertise in helping at-risk young job seekers succeed in employment. Recently, we sat down with Jamie Fountain, Associate Director of Workforce Development at Larkin Street Youth Services. Located in San Francisco, Larkin Street got its start in the 1980s serving bagged lunches to youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. Today, Larkin Street has 25 programs across 14 program sites and offers youth experiencing and at-risk of homelessness a comprehensive set of services including housing, medical care, and education and employment services via Larkin’s Hire Up program. While in Hire Up, youth can receive job readiness training, learn computer and technology skills, earn wages as part of supervised, entry-level work crew, and participate in paid internships with local businesses and organizations.
Larkin Street recognizes that youth’s success in employment is critical to its mission to “help kids get off the street for good.” In this conversation, Jamie talks about how “failure” yields innovation, the power of supportive relationships in helping youth get and keep jobs, and why it’s important to celebrate success along the journey to sustainable employment.