One year ago this month, Charlotte Works’ Youth Works program launched the Youth Business Connector (YBC) at a near-packed house press conference.
The YBC is a web-based clearinghouse of work-based learning (WBL) opportunities developed through a collaboration of employers, schools and community organizations to help local employers build a future pipeline of qualified employees and our region’s students gain valuable career awareness and preparation.
At the one-year mark, the YBC has tallied some impressive numbers:
Sixty-six employers represent 16 career clusters such as
- architecture and construction;
- arts, audio-video technology and communications;
- health science;
- hospitality and tourism;
- human services;
- information technology;
- law and public safety;
- manufacturing; and
- science, technology, engineering and math.
They offer WBL opportunities to both in-school and out-of-school youth including
- career fairs,
- classroom speakers,
- workplace tours,
- cooperative education,
- internships and
- volunteer service.
Fifty-one educators represent
- 25 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high schools;
- one charter school;
- Central Piedmont Community College;
- community partners that provide in-school support such as Communities In Schools, MeckEd and ResCare Workforce Services; and
- 10 youth-mentoring organizations such as Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Junior Achievement of Central Carolinas, the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program and the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
Currently the YBC lists 40 requests for spring and summer WBL opportunities.
The most popular requests for short-term WBL opportunities are for employer participation in career days, classroom speakers and workplace tours. Jeanne Smith, academy coordinator at Olympic Community of Schools, used the YBC to arrange an engineering discovery day at UNC Charlotte for 110 students in Olympic’s Academy of Engineering.
The most sought-after long-term WBL opportunities are internships and volunteer service.
To date, internships are the most frequent connections made via the YBC. CMS students are working in special events, marketing, accounting, food service and TV production, and both they and employers report positive experiences.
Shemani Jackson, a senior at West Mecklenburg High School, is interested in a career in the culinary arts and dreams of owning her own bakery. The school’s career development coordinator used the YBC to connect her to an internship at Jewell Treats.
“I work with customers to provide the best service possible, track inventory and work with buttercream, chocolate-covered pretzels and strawberries,” she says. “Everything is going so good that I’m actually seeking employment after completing my internship.”
“The Youth Business Connector is easy to use and provided us with a wonderful intern,” adds Jennifer Lewis, head baker at Jewell Treats.
Donald Tate, station manager at CMS TV, used the YBC to find three interns. “I’ve been impressed with how the Youth Business Connector has simplified the process to recruit the right interns for our team,” says Tate. “Qualified students work with their career development coordinators and come to us based on knowing our expectations. It’s led to a positive experience with interns who want to learn.”
Want to get connected on the YBC?
Educators from charter schools, home schools, private schools and youth mentoring organizations within Mecklenburg County are invited to join.
Businesses and professional organizations that can offer WBL opportunities to area students are especially encouraged to join
Learn more about the YBC
Are you a youth? Are you a business? Want to connect? (August 2013)
New web portal connects youth, businesses (December 2013)