goodwillEach week, Corporate Voices will be highlighting the commitments of its member and partner companies to Summer Jobs Plus, a new Presidential call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.

Corporate Voices’ partner company, Goodwill Industries International is proud to be one of the first organizations to support the Summer Jobs Plus program. Through Goodwill’s unique social enterprise business model, it creates employment and job training. This year, the organization will expand services for youth at the beginning of their careers. Goodwill is committed to hiring 1,200 youth ages 16-26, provide more than 3,200 youth with life skill services and provide over 2,300 youth with work skills services. Almost 2,000 youth will be engaged in learn and earn services. Thousands more will be provided virtual career mentoring and exploration services.

To learn more about fellow member companies committed to this effort, check out the new section on our website devoted to Summer Jobs Plus! To find out how your company can join this in this effort, build on your existing initiatives and make a commitment, please visit www.dol.gov/summerjobs/employers.htm.

WAFCFor more than a decade, Corporate Voices has provided leading best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families, while strengthening our nation’s economy.  Many employers accomplish this by supporting the educational attainment of current and future employees.  In order to ensure that individuals have the skills to succeed in the workplace and are on education and career pathways to earning family sustaining wages, employers often partner with community colleges in Learn and Earn models of talent development.

Each week, in an effort to highlight these best practice models, Corporate Voices will spotlight a distinct Learn and Earn partnership between a business and community college. This week, we are pleased to highlight the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC).

The sole mission of WAFC, an organization representing companies in the retail and wholesale food industry, is to build education depth throughout the food industry.  Through its Retail Management Certificate Program, WAFC has partnered with more than 135 community colleges to utilize standard academic course work offered by most community colleges to create an industry recognized certificate.  As budget cuts force these community colleges to evaluate resource allocations and expenditures, their food industry partners offer onsite classroom usage within their facilities, supplementing valuable on-campus space.  Additionally, employer partners provide adjunct instructors steeped in current learning needs of the industry.

For more information on WAFC, please read the Learn and Earn micro-business case, or check Corporate Voices’ most recent tool, Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint.

Recently, Corporate Voices for Working Families announced its latest publication documenting the important ways in which business leaders and postsecondary educators can collaborate to serve their mutual goals. Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint, offers practical advice, best-practice models, and concrete action steps for business and college leaders who hope to start, sustain, or expand successful community partnerships.

The new blueprint was the topic of lively discussion last month in Miami when the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) hosted its annual Workforce Development Institute. The event included some 450 workplace experts, employers, policy leaders and government officials from across the nation. Peg Walton, Corporate Voices’ Senior Director of Workforce Readiness, joined them to lead a session on business-community college partnerships, and shared the perspective of Corporate Voices’ partner companies on this important work. The new partnership tool may be found here. For more information on it, or on Corporate Voices’ role at the AACC’s Workforce Development Institute, please contact Peg Walton.

On Monday, February 13, 2012, President Obama released his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget. While the president’s Budget is effectively a blueprint for the next fiscal year, it also offers an early glimpse of his administration’s key priorities for both tax policy and government spending, and sets the stage for his reelection themes. Ultimately, the president’s budget proposal must traverse the divided legislative branch and its toxic atmosphere–thus, rendering another presidential Budget “dead on arrival”.

With that said, a clear picture of President Obama’s election year priorities emerges from the 2013 Budget. Corporate Voices applauds the administration’s focus on building the skills of American workers through several key proposals.  The Pathways Back to Work Fund, for example, includes continued support of the Workforce Innovation Fund, that, paired with broader waiver authority, will encourage States, regions, and localities to break down barriers among programs, test new ideas, and replicate proven strategies for delivering bet­ter employment and education results in a more cost-effective way. Similarly, the Budget also proposes a new Community College to Career Fund, an $8 billion initiative designed to improve access to job training across the nation by supporting State and community college partnerships with businesses to build the skills of American workers. For more on the proposal, please see this White House summary.

Building on its community college focus, the president’s budget also includes funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAA CCCT) program, to help community colleges—partnering with employers and local workforce boards–improve and expand their programs to meet local and regional labor market demands. Through rigorous evaluation, data collection, and greater use of employer collaboration and online learning, the program will help colleges advance approaches that will produce the greatest returns for their students.

In the arena of tax policy, Corporate Voices is pleased to see that the Budget permanently extends expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that were passed in the Recovery Act and continued as part of the bipartisan Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act that the President negotiated and signed into law in December of 2010.

While the likelihood of President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget passing through Congress as it stands is very slim, Corporate Voices is encouraged to see an emphasis on building partnerships between community colleges and employers and replicating innovative training programs that produce results and help to improve the lives of America’s working families.

Corporate Voices and a number of our partner companies played a key role in a White House event  held January 5 to launch the Summer Jobs Plus Initiative.

“Corporate Voices for Working Families supports the Obama administration in launching the Summer Jobs Plus initiative, which recognizes that there are a number of ways that employers can provide pathways to success for our nation’s low-income young adults, including Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives along with summer jobs,” said Stephen M. Wing, who represented Corporate Voices.

Wing made his remarks as part of the White House Summer Jobs Plus Summit. He participated on a panel that explored the moral imperative, economic need and potential value of connecting low-income and disconnected youth to employment opportunities, both in the short and long term. The panel, titled “The Case for Summer Jobs+ 2012,” consisted of Alan Krueger, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Alma Powell, America’s Promise Alliance; James White, CEO, Jamba Juice; R.T. Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis, MN; Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza; and John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises/ White House Council for Community Solutions.

The event marked the launch of President Obama’s challenge to businesses to commit to provide low-income youth with summer employment and other pathways to success. Recognizing that in a difficult economy not every business is in a position to hire, the administration’s new Summer Jobs Plus initiative will support not only businesses that hire youth, but also those companies that provide additional pathways for youth, such as internships, mentoring and other programs.  Summer Jobs Plus identifies three key ways for companies to help connect youth to a better future while simultaneously deriving benefits for their businesses, such as increased employee engagement, customer loyalty and employee retention.

Businesses can accept the president’s challenge and make a “Pathways Pledge” by choosing at least one of the following three pathways to employment for low-income youth: Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn.

Corporate Voices’ Senior Workforce Readiness Consultant, Elyse Rosenblum, served as a content expert at one of the featured breakout sessions: “Creating Pathways to Employment for Youth.

“More than five million young people in the United States are disconnected from education and employment,” Rosenblum said. “Corporate Voices is encouraged that the Obama administration has brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to find solutions that will enable young people to succeed, help employers tap new sources of skilled talent and strengthen our nation’s economic prosperity.”

A number of businesses committed to providing our nation’s young adults with jobs, internships and other pathways to opportunity, including the following Corporate Voices’ partner companies: Bank of America, Baxter International, Inc., CVS Caremark, Deloitte, Goodwill Industries International, H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

Over the last five years, Corporate Voices, in partnership with the New Options Project, and with support from the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been deeply focused on ways companies can provide low-income young adults with pathways to employment and education.

Most recently, Corporate Voices has worked with Gap Inc. and McKinsey by providing content and information for a toolkit being released today by the Corporation for National Service. The toolkit provides employers with a roadmap for how they can use different strategies, such as Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives to provide opportunities to America’s young adults. The toolkit entitled “A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth & Business” is available at no cost and can be accessed here

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