Step Forward’s Building Futures Network met Thursday, February 16 to discuss the need for students to receive workforce preparation that matches the needs of local employers to increase employment for young adults. Network partners from Volunteers of America, Career Compass Louisiana, Shreve Memorial Library, Bossier Community College, Goodwill Industries, Caddo Parish School Board, Bossier Chamber of Commerce, Linwood Public Charter School, and Shreveport Job Corps Center were in attendance.
The discussion highlighted that post-COVID challenges are hindering workforce preparation. It is no secret that the COVID lockdown impacted the social and emotional growth of students. Network partners pointed out that many students are struggling with mental health issues. It was commented that students are requesting more virtual courses. The network agreed that more work must be done to close the learning, earning, and employment gaps among students of color and those living in poverty. The network understands that preparing for tomorrow’s workforce will take collaboration, commitment, and consistency.
To better prepare students for the workforce, Step Forward launched ACCESS, on January 31, 2023, at Woodlawn High School and Booker T. Washington High School. ACCESS is an initiative of Step Forward that brings employers to students on school campuses where career and technical discussions are facilitated. These tours are coordinated by school counselors, network partners, and local employers. Network partner, Jacques Lasseigne of the Louisiana Workforce Commission recruited employers for the tours. Fibrebond, Union Pacific Railroad, Dillas, Army Air Force Exchange, Brentwood Hospital, Advanced Aero, Christus Health, International Paper, Ochsner Health, Sabre Industries, Willis Knighton Hospital Health System, Elite Business Resources, LLS and IBEW 194 launching. The employers educated students on how to prepare for work at their organization. They also discussed employee training and benefits. Overall feedback from the tours has been good. The employers were excited to have access to students to make them aware of employment and scholarship opportunities after graduation.
Upcoming tours are being scheduled for March and April. If you are interested in participating in ACCESS, please contact Carla Burgos at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in becoming a network partner sign up here.