Building Good Jobs for Young Adults: Lessons from Generation Work
Young front-line workers—particularly young adults of color—remain significantly impacted by the post-pandemic recession. They’ve experienced disruptions in employment, education, and training, and are struggling to connect to meaningful work.
The Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program uses the phrase “good fit jobs” to describe the employment opportunities these young workers are seeking. The program’s research was conducted as part of its national partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation during its first phase of the Generation Work initiative, where EOP engaged with local partners and employers to identify and cultivate good fit jobs for young adults. In a recent post on the Institute website, the program shares the purpose of their work, and some of what they’ve learned.
What good fit jobs can do:
- Address a young adult’s immediate income needs
- Provide valuable work experience for young adults who have never had a job
- Present opportunities for young adults to learn about workplace behavioral norms and expectations and apply communication and conflict resolution skills learned in training
- Help young adults explore their strengths and interests, build relationships, and expand their social and professional networks
Why it matters:
Ultimately, good fit jobs can support learning, skill development, and a trajectory toward a sustainable livelihood.
Attitudes, practices, and outcomes, which is a nice trifecta. EOP works to shift employer mindsets and preconceived biases around hiring young people, especially young adults of color and young adults who haven’t followed a conventional path in education and work. The program and its local partners help employers to change practices around how young adults are onboarded, trained, mentored, and supervised at work.
These young workers provide the talent and effort that powers our economy, and employers must help them develop the skills they need to succeed while increasing advancement and earning opportunities. In the post, the program shares insight for practitioners, funders, and policymakers about how to redesign employment systems and structures to reduce inequities, creating good fit job opportunities for all.
Relatedly—and really, everything is related in inclusive economy work—the Institute’s Business and Society Program held a discussion about supporting workers of color in tech, especially as layoffs in the industry continue.
Tech is one of the most important drivers of US economic growth and jobs in the sector promise high-growth careers, so many celebrated as tech companies publicly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces. However, recent data shows that that commitment is weakening on the hiring side, and that companies are laying off a disproportionate number of workers of color. To discuss Supporting Workers of Color at Tech’s New Crossroads, Linda A. Hill of Harvard Business School moderated a panel consisting of Kelsey Butler, equality reporter at Bloomberg; Bek Chee, general partner and chief people officer at TCV; and David Delmar Sentíes, author of What We Build With Power: The Fight for Economic Justice in Tech.
In the 45-minute discussion, the panelists shared new data and anecdotes from people working in tech DEI, and offered ideas for how tech can dismantle some of the barriers that are filtering people of color out of promising tech careers. They also challenged the execution of inclusive initiatives, even when they do happen. “Too many initiatives that are out there that I have seen are concerned with bringing bodies in the door,” said Sentíes. “I think the work is not done until people see a pathway to their own advancement and to the increase of their own influence over their particular domain at work.”
This piece was originally published in APIE’s newsletter ‘The Weekly Slice’. Click here to subscribe.