The “Career Pathways to Sustainable Employment” program is a collaboration between the City of Evanston and Youth Job Center to bring training, education and employment to under-skilled youth, aged 18-25. The program began last October, 17 youth have enrolled, 14 completed subsidized internships, five completed certification programs and seven more are close to completing a certification program. Ten are now working in permanent, full time jobs.

“The Career Pathways program basically gave me job experience and opened doors for me to make better life decisions,” says participant, Shannique Shelton, a District 65 intern at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center.

Shannique plans to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Participants in Career Pathways are identified through the City of Evanston’s Outreach program. Participants must complete the YJC’s 12-day job-readiness training (JRT) program. Successful completion of JRT is essential as it prepares youth for what it takes to get a job and be successful in the workplace. Sessions focus on work ethic, conflict-resolution, resume development, interviewing skills and on a variety of basic computer skills.

After successful completion of JRT, participants are assigned to a YJC career adviser who works with them to identify their skills and interests and develop an individualized career plan. A 200-hour internship that is aligned with their career plan. The subsidized internship experience gives participants real work experience in their area of interest.

The education piece includes enrollment in a certification/credentialing program tied to the internship. “The certification piece is critical to the overall success of the program,” says YJC Career Pathways adviser LaTesha Rodgers. “Ideally the internship turns into full-time employment. But if it doesn’t, the participant now has valid work experience and relevant education that will make finding a job that much easier,” she adds.

“The City of Evanston and Youth Job Center’s Career Pathways Initiative offers an effective and proven approach to meeting the challenges of an under-skilled workforce,” says Youth and Young Adult Program Manager Kevin Brown. “The alignment of education, training, and employment services through YJC provides Evanston residents with intentional connections to high-demand occupations that meet the needs of participants and employers. It is a wonderful program. And, most importantly, it’s having results.”