Reshaping Workforce Development in Baltimore

Best Practices/Programs

Seven community leaders as consultants (23-29) travelled and researched different programs in place to advice on what would work for the city of Baltimore as well as give insight on the issues that the youth face in their communities.


  • While the youth understands that continuing their education is important to build a career, they are limited by the immediate need of money. They are pressured to take on any job that is easily available;
  • They were interested in starting their own businesses to not have to face discrimination.

    Businesses are reluctant in hiring young people with criminal records;

  • They have a lack of information about jobs or job resources. Often they go by word of mouth on who is hiring;
  • Sometimes this has to do with their lack of access to the internet;
  • Many reported using prepaid phones so it is hard for potential employers to keep in touch; Lack of transportation was also a barrier as (especially those with minimum wage jobs) find it expensive to get around and public transportation is often unreliable;
  • Growing up in an unstable environment -poverty, homelessness, family instability, neighborhood violence all interfere with obtaining a job and job performance;
  • They think workforce development programs are a scam.

    They are told they have 97% job-placement but then they hear of people not getting a job and then owing the program money.


Appointing community leaders is important because it is often hard to connect with the youth. Having people from their own community helps build trust and encourages them to stay engaged in the program.

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Furthermore, because they come from the community, they have a better idea as to what needs to be done specifically for that community’s youth.

Providing wraparound services to mitigate the participation barriers young people face -Providing resolutions to common challenges by partnering with other community-based organizations to ensure young people can access housing, child care, transportation, legal, financial coaching and other services in addition to job training.

Making job opportunities, including training and placement resources, more visible through social media, at the library and on street signs

Investing in and using under-resourced community centers that are already reaching young people (Chick Webb -free basketball).

Providing resources and information to mentors who are already working in communities.

Ensure workforce development programs are designed to meet industry demands.

Hiring programs for formerly incarcerated persons must connect clients to jobs that pay a living wage. Programs that provide expungement services must better explain their process to clients.

Review of Evidence-Based Youth and Young Adult Workforce Initiatives

Best Practices/Programs

American Conservation Youth Service Corps (Youth Corps) (18-25) -Targets dropouts. Duration is around 6-12 months. Educational services, occupational training, and employment services

Job Corps (16-24) – Targets low-income youth. Duration is up to 2 years but is at an average of 8 months. Education/training program that provides academic education, vocational training, residential living, health care services, counseling, and job placement assistance

Educational services include: basic education, driver education, and GED courses. They acquire training for occupations such as: business and clerical, health, construction, culinary arts, and building/apartment maintenance. They also receive health care, health education, and other counseling services

The Role of Sectoral Initiatives in Solving the Employment Problems of Opportunity Youth

Best Practices/Programs

Sectoral initiatives allow for workforce systems to develop networks with employers that allow them to train and place customers.

An intermediary organization brings employers, educators, and workforce development agencies together to identify the goals of the initiative. They are involved in recruitment, training, support services, and follow-up assistance. They help meet the labor market needs.

Example: Wisconsin Regional Training Program (WRTP) in Milwaukee -Short-term pre-employment training in construction, manufacturing, and health care.

Example: Jewish Vocational Services (JVS-Boston) -training in preparation for jobs in medical billing and accounting.


Strengthening career, technical education and integrating work-based learning opportunities would make high school more relevant and interesting for at-risk students.

The Right Connections: Navigating the Workforce Development System

Best Practices/Programs

Workforce Investment Act Youth Program (14-21)- Must be low-income and face at least one of the following:

  • Basic skills deficient;
  • school dropout;
  • homeless, a runaway, or foster child;
  • pregnant teen or teen parent;
  • offender;
  • or individual who requires additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment.

WIA youth services consist of the ten program elements required at WIA section 129 (c ): tutoring, alternative secondary school offerings, summer employment opportunities, paid and unpaid work experience, occupational skill training, leadership development opportunities, supportive services, mentoring, follow-up services, and comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Each local area is required to offer all ten program elements, but not every youth must receive all ten.


Direct education, training, or employment services. The more common include: technical schools, colleges, and universities, vocational rehabilitation centers, apprenticeship programs, community-based organizations, welfare-to-work training programs, literacy programs, Job Corp Centers, unions, and labor/management programs. “Workforce development system as organizations at the national, state, and local levels that have direct responsibility for planning and allocating resources (both public and private), providing administrative oversight, and operating programs to assist individuals and employers in obtaining education, training, job placement, and job recruitment.”

Trident Workforce Investment Board Youth Strategic Plan

Best Practices/Programs

SC Works Trident (14-21) -identifies individual’s strengths to prepare them for the workforce or to begin their careers. The program offers: job/college placement assistance, along with connections to internships and on-the-job training.


Five-Year Youth Strategic Plan for the Trident Region and South Carolina

Expand Educational opportunities and achievements for WIA youth participants -emphasizing the importance of education in relation to academic preparation and forming career paths. Identifying resources to increase the Literacy Levels. Facilitating the attainment of a high school credential for non-graduates.

Expand and align Career & Technical offerings that meet the in demand career clusters and employment opportunities for WIA youth participants – connecting curricula and potential careers to align with South Carolina’s Career Clusters. Increasing internships, job shadowing, and apprenticeships for WIA youth participants. Identifying additional soft skills training needed by business and industry.

Increase the number and quality of Employment opportunities available to WIA youth participants -Identifying employment opportunities within the trident regional business communities. Establishing the use of a career inventory assessment system to better match and validate the skill sets of WIA youth participants.

Create and implement a sustainable public relations campaign for youth emphasizing high school completion and in demand post-secondary education and/or training -Developing an “education is important/valuable” message. Creating a means for out-of-school youth to connect with Educational, Career & Technology, and Employment opportunities.

Using Afterschool Programs to Promote Workforce Development

Best Practices/Programs

Umatilla, Ore.’s Success 101 – required high school course. Students develop 10 year plans and map out their career paths and different economic strategies.

Ville Platte, La.’s Youth Opportunity Unlimited (Y.O.U.) program consists of weekly trainings that include character education, workforce skills and business etiquette, social development and money management


These programs help participants explore career interests, build critical skills, and gain access/information about postsecondary opportunities.

Youth Education & Employment

Best Practices/Programs

Neighborhood House (8-13) -Targets youth at high risk for school failure, criminal activities, drug abuse or gang involvement. 12-18 months long program that has services such as counseling, tutoring, mentoring, family interventions and home visits, involvement in cultural and recreational activities and treatment for substance abuse and other health/mental problems. Only serves 15-18 youth at a time. Case managers work in schools, homes, and in the community during non-traditional hours.

WorkSource (16-24) -Targets youth that dropped out of high school but want to earn their GED and go to college, technical training, and/or employment. The program individually helps students earn their GED. Post-GED studies they still receive help with math and writing skills to prepare for college. They receive assistance preparing and finding employment. They also receive assistance with barriers to their academic and employment success such as: transportation, housing, parenting issues, legal issues, and substance abuse. Lastly, they receive individualized support and counseling.

YouthSource (16-24) -They assist youth complete high school or get their GED in a non-traditional setting: contextual learning related to careers, self-paced/student-centered, open entry/open exit. Employment services/activities occur while they are earning their degree. The students are also encouraged to take on leadership roles with opportunities such as: community/service learning, justice committee/advocacy work, life skills training and public speaking presentations.

Youth Employment Matters! – Urban Alliance

Best Practices/Programs

The Urban Alliance Model

Activities: Pre-work training, professional internship, skill building, post high school coaching, alumni services

Five essential elements: Job skills training -Six weeks of unpaid “pre-work” job skills training at the beginning of the school year. Teaches participants how to communicate effectively, dress appropriately for the workplace, and set goals. The training concludes with a mock job interview and those who demonstrate a positive attitude are accepted into the internship program.

Placement in a paid internship -Part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer (up to 600 hours). Interns learn a variety of hard and soft skills, including office administration, technology, presentation skills, customer service, research, communications, goal setting, critical thinking, and professional etiquette.

Career mentoring -Interns are assigned a corporate partner mentor who act as a job site supervisor, providing feedback and direction on projects and tasks. Mentors serve as the participants’ first point of access to a professional network, including other employees and colleagues who can give advice on career direction. The mentor also evaluates the intern four times over the course of the internship. The evaluations assesses progress acquiring 20 key skills, half of which are soft skills; results are used to chart a path for growth and to reinforce the practice of soft skills.

Case management -Interns have a program coordinator who help them navigate relationships with the mentor and workplace. The program coordinator helps with career aspirations. They assist with the college application process and identifying alternate pathways. They conduct weekly workshops that reinforce skills learned on the job and help students plan for the logistical and financial challenges of life after high school.

Ongoing support -Interns receive additional services as they progress through their career. Alumni coordinators review former participants’ resumes and cover letters, conduct mock job interviews, circulate job announcements, and provide post-secondary coaching. They also may return for college internships that align with their career interests.

Youth Workforce Development

Best Practices/Programs

Youth Workforce offers three programs (16-24)

Roots of Success (ROS) is an educational program that prepares young adults for environmental careers. Seven weeks long and upon completion the participants earn $400. Then they are connected to jobs within and outside the “green economy.” Training focuses on environmental literacy and developing essential skills for the workplace. Participants receive transportation assistance throughout the training.

The Empowerment to Employment program (E2E) (18-24) -six weeks of paid, comprehensive professional development and skills training, followed by employment placement for a minimum of 300 hours. Participants are guaranteed up to 25 work hours per week at a rate of $15 an hour.

Roadmap to Readiness R2R -internship program for juniors that counts toward high school credit. Once students have completed half a semester of in class professional preparation, they are invited to complete an apprenticeship in one of the following disciplines: Screen printing, music production, photography, and 3D printing. They receive a stipend of $400 at the end of their apprenticeship and are invited back the following semester as interns with the objective of teaching incoming apprentices how to perform their new role.

Youth Workforce Development Article (July 2016)

Best Practices/Programs

ServiceWorks (16-24) -Community engagement and volunteer service. Training: each participant gets partnered with a mentor who guides them to accomplish their goals. Bootcamps: sessions in one day that help develop workplace skills and to expand personal networks.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) (16-24) -Focuses on at risk youth (high school dropouts or kids with barriers to graduation or employment). JAG graduates are guaranteed an interview. 12-month post-graduation job/college follow up.

YouthBuild (16-24) -They learn construction skills by building affordable housing for the homeless/low-income people in their own neighborhoods and other community assets (schools, playgrounds).

National Guard Youth Challenge Program (16-18) -Alternative educational program (17 months). 5 months of Residential Phase: students live on site, are supervised 24/7, attend school, and receive counseling. 12 month Post Residential Phase: graduates are assisted by YCP manages and mentors to continue their education (college), begin job training, finding employment or enlisting in the military. Targets youth at risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy and criminal activity.

Latin American Youth Center (Washington DC) (11-24) -Targets high school dropouts. 12-week job readiness class, career workshops in service and production industries, National Professional Certification in Customer Service, GED preparation classes, job placement, and intensive case management.

Our Piece of the Pie Inc. (Hartford, CT) (14-24) -A collaboration with community colleges and local industry that promotes workforce development and career planning in the community college educational experience.

WorkReady Philadelphia- Year-round programs for (12-21) in and out of school. Summer six-week paid work experience for (14-21).


Academic/technical training: focus on employability skills. Support services, connections to employers, and early work experiences.

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Reshaping Workforce Development in Baltimore. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from

Reshaping Workforce Development in Baltimore
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