A group of over 50 stakeholders from across Central Oregon is creating a system that increases meaningful work experience opportunities for young people. The data is clear: young people are engaging in work experiences significantly less while they are in school (high school, college, and university) than they have in the past, and this is negatively impacting their readiness to be successful upon entering the workforce. This has become a critical issue for both youth development and economic development in Central Oregon.
Youth CareerConnect is a public-private partnership with a group of stakeholders from Central Oregon businesses, school districts, higher education institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits. Facilitated by Better Together, an organization aimed at increasing student success, this group has united to create a streamlined system for placing young people in meaningful internships in the region. Since January, Better Together and their partners have raised almost $300,000 to do just that.
“This is a strong example of what we can do as a community when we come together around shared outcomes. Every sector in our region has a role to play getting youth prepared for entering the workforce,” said Katie Condit, executive director of Better Together
The Youth CareerConnect initiative places internship coordinators in local business associations, such as Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), to act as the connector between education and employers. The idea is to have a single point of contact that can support both sides of the relationship to more effectively connect youth to opportunities. Additionally, with the support of the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board, there is an online portal being launched that will use an algorithm to match youth to internship opportunities. This tool will be used by schools, youth programs, and businesses to further streamline the process.
“This initiative builds a system that serves our students and our economy in Central Oregon. We have a vision to develop the most robust internship system in Pacific NW and together have seen critical investments over the past 9 months to begin to realize that vision,” adds Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.
Youth CareerConnect Central Oregon is proud to announce that three internship coordinators were hired this summer in the region: Davida Plaisted with the Madras Chamber of Commerce, David Haines with the Bend Chamber of Commerce and Larry Holeman with EDCO in Redmond. The goal in year one is to have 160 young people ages 16-24 in Central Oregon complete meaningful internships. The ultimate goal is to have all young people in Central Oregon complete at least one meaningful work experience prior to finishing school, whether that be high school, college or university.
Youth CareerConnect is a regional, cross-sector partnership that is building a system to increase the number of work-ready youth and young adults through successful placements in meaningful work experiences. www.YouthCareerConnect.org.
Better Together actively works to improve the educational outcomes and well-being of young people through regional, cross-sector alignment. www.BetterTogetherCentralOregon.org.