Nearly 50 young people from across Chicago convened at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future on Friday, April 21 for a combined job readiness workshop and job fair. The event was designed to address two barriers to youth employment at the same time: inexperience with applying and interviewing, and a lack of networking connections to get a foot in the door.
Gary Comer Youth Center, St. Sabina Employment Resource Center, OneGoal and Urban Alliance identified youth ages 18-24 whom they felt would benefit the most from the experience.
According to a report published earlier this year by the UIC Great Cities Institute, 59 percent of African Americans between the ages of 20 and 24 in Chicago were jobless in 2014 – the jobless rates were higher for youth living on the South and West sides of the city.
The young job seekers began the afternoon with an hour of resume assistance and mock interviews conducted by human resource professionals from major Chicago employers CDW, Chase Bank, PeopleScout, University of Chicago Medicine, Ulta Beauty and UPS. In addition to practicing typical interview questions, job seekers learned ways to give positive answers to challenging questions and how best to talk about their previous school and work experiences, which youth often struggle with.
The attendees then had the opportunity to sit down with Skills recruiting team to interview for entry-level positions that employers have committed to filling with unemployed or underemployed job seekers. Opportunities the young adults interviewed for included jobs in sales, financial services, customer service, healthcare, manufacturing, warehouse and logistics, retail, and food service.
Skills is a non-profit, public-private partnership that matches employers that have current openings with qualified, unemployed or underemployed job seekers. The organization has made a concerted effort to place more young adults.
Skills is already considering several applicants from the job fair as candidates for referral to next stage of the hiring process with Skills’ employer partners.
“Our employer partner volunteers and Skills staff were blown away by these young people’s drive and enthusiasm,” said Marie Trzupek Lynch, founding President and CEO of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. “Based on the success of this event, we will work with our community partners to host more workshops like this later in the year.”