One of the most common questions adults ask children is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Though we get responses that are sure to drastically change in the next decade of their life, it is normal to discuss these topics with younger generations.
Workforce development starts at birth, and we need every single student in the Greater Lansing region to be as prepared as possible to fill the jobs of the future. We can’t always know what those jobs will be or who they’ll be with, but we do know that young people — be it a senior in high school or a kindergartner — are our future workforce.
Our educational partners in the region work tirelessly to educate and inspire youth. As a business community, it’s our responsibility to support them as much as we can to ensure tomorrow’s employees are getting prepared today.
According to research by the Harvard Business School, businesses with corporate social responsibility practices outperform their competitors over time. One way for your business to show its commitment to social responsibility is to invest in your community’s younger generations. Consider it an expansion of your training programs.
Oftentimes, talking to and inspiring youth can be enough to motivate them to achieve their goals. This is especially beneficial for lower-income and urban youth who may not have the resources that middle- and higher-income students do. Encourage your business to reach out to schools in the Greater Lansing area to see if a representative of your company can visit and give a talk. An even better option would be to schedule a field trip for students to visit your workplace.
According to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), companies with social impact programs performed better financially between 2012 and 2014 than those without these programs. This committee would know — it’s made up of 150 CEOs from some of the world’s largest companies. So, investing time and energy into these initiatives is clearly worthwhile. If you can afford it, try offering internships or apprenticeship programs so students can work hands-on with you and your employees.
Our region is rich with initiatives connecting businesses with students:
Earlier this spring, a regional “reverse” job fair brought students and specialized employers together in a twist on the traditional job fair with ready-to-work students who’ve completed certification and technical training programs. The students — not employers — sat at the tables and laid out their resumes, info cards and work examples and employers visited them to learn more about them as potential employees.
MiCareerQuest is a student-focused, employer-driven event that engages both employers and students in activities that expose students to a variety of occupations and career pathways available throughout the region and around the world. T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive. and CAMW! partnered to host the first capital-area event, with dozens of hands-on exhibits, thousands of students and hundreds of individuals from local employers interacting directly with students about local career opportunities.
The Board of Water & Light developed 1st S.T.E.P., or the School to Training and Employment Program, which has graduated over 100 students, hired nearly 20 full-time employees and awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships. The program allows students to explore career opportunities, links education to the real world of work and provides potential for paid, work-based learning and a Lansing Community College scholarship.
Additionally, you can encourage your employees to volunteer with education organizations that work with students to teach them about careers, confidence and skills. Depending on your field, local options might include ITEC, Impression 5 Science Center and REACH Studio Art Center. Employers also can support programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, which allows for longer, deeper periods of mentorship and nurturing.
Investing in the future workforce today ensures that our businesses — and our youth — will go on to succeed far beyond our time.