Businesses' role in promoting workforce readiness

By Marty Martinez, President & CEO of Mass Mentoring Partnership, @MartinezMMP

Across Massachusetts, significant gaps continue to exist between the skills and education of the workforce and the needs of employers. Young workers between the ages of 16 and 24 are disproportionately unemployed, and there remains a great need to build and expand effective pathways for teens to get the skills and support they need to prepare for college and the workforce. This issue is of particular concern during the summer when the risks of violent or delinquent behavior increase.

[caption id="attachment_1285" align="alignright" width="150"]Marty2 MMP CEO Marty Martinez[/caption]

The business community plays a key part in the summer jobs effort, but we know mentors play an important ongoing role in helping young people develop the real-world interpersonal and problem solving skills they need to better themselves, their families and their communities. We recently highlighted the link between the lack of jobs for young people and and the gap of caring, adult mentors in a Boston Globe op-ed co-authored by Regina M. Pisa, chairman of Goodwin Procter LLP and chair of the board of directors of Mass Mentoring Partnership, and Bob Gallery, Massachusetts president for Bank of America. We encourage you to share this article with your supporters as a call to action to engage businesses in addressing this issue in partnership with your program.

We were also pleased to see the release of a new study that indicates that low-income teenagers in Boston who hold summer jobs are less likely to engage in violence. The study, conducted by Northeastern University, consisted of youth who found employment last summer through the support of the Youth Violence Prevention Funders Collaborative (YVPFC) and the State Street Foundation. MMP is part of the leadership of the YVPFC and works to ensure that mentoring is integrated as one of the strategies to support violence prevention and youth employment. We encourage you to share this research and explore how efforts like this bring together businesses, foundations, government agencies and key experts to make a difference in an important issue facing our communities.

Mentoring is a critical strategy in improving the lives of young people and communities and we must continue our efforts to make that connection for all of our key stakeholders.