YAPWorx: Workforce Development for Youth with Complex Needs
Connecting to the world of work is a challenge most youth overcome, often with just a little help. Unfortunately, many of the participants we serve are disconnected from the people and experiences that would otherwise help them make this important connection and develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for long-term labor market success. Disconnected young people have lower rates of labor force participation and fewer opportunities to discover their own unique contribution to the world of work. YAP Advocates expose youth to specific career pathways, service opportunities and skill building opportunities. They also help to “spark” youth investments in education, skills training, and pursuing positive lifestyles by showing them how it relates to future economic self-sufficiency.
YAP’s Workforce Development Model is developed on a Positive Youth Justice (PYJ) framework. It’s a bit of a departure from traditional Workforce Development approaches in that it can be used 1:1 or in groups; it can be individualized to meet the specific needs of each youth; and it can be delivered in a classroom, living room, kitchen table, front stoop or park bench. Advocates don’t wait for youth to show up; they are “feet in the street” and meet with youth where they are, building a trust relationship through their relentless outreach and responsiveness to the youth’s needs and preferences. These attributes help to engage those youth who otherwise may not succeed in more traditional workforce development programs.