By Elizabeth Lufrano, United Way community impact manager
Do you remember your first job interview? I do. I was 13 and got into a fight with my mother over what I was planning to wear.
Being the helpful, ever-patient woman she is, my mother tried again and again to explain to me that wearing a tie-dye blouse was inappropriate and would send the wrong message to the supervisor. But I was 13 and thought I knew better; wow, was I wrong.
Reflecting on moments like these make me extremely grateful I had access to the resources I needed as a young adult to enter the employment market and explore various career paths. (For the record, I learned from my mistake and got my first job at 14). But few are so lucky.
Through the commitment of thousands of volunteers, donors and community partners, United way of Northeast Florida supports efforts to provide basic needs, advocate for high-quality education, ensure good health and well-being, foster financial security and develop new strategies to address emerging issues in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties. It’s incredible work by an incredibly hardworking team.
This spring, I was reminded of my humble career beginnings by volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club’s BridgeWorks Interview Day at the Weaver Zone in Springfield. Approximately 30 young adults grades seven through 12 were able to sharpen their interview skills in preparation for finding a summer job or internship.
At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “That’s great, but why do I care?” Well, across the South, there are not enough middle-skilled workers to meet industry needs. In fact, in Jacksonville, 57 percent of the top 100 occupations require more than a high school diploma. An essential component to closing this skills gap is to invest in the training and retention of local talent starting with middle school students.
And that’s exactly what happened in May — this Interview Day was an investment in our local talent. I had the opportunity to meet five young adults who are ready, talented and eager to join Jacksonville’s workforce. Yes, they still have a lot of learning to do, but they are taking a critical step toward their own financial security while helping build out the pipeline of Jacksonville’s workforce.
To learn how you can get involvoed with workforce development in our community, feel free to email me any time.