While business leaders across the nation voice their difficulties in finding highly-skilled employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is closing the skills gap through a program that connects youth with skilled mentors and, oftentimes, rewarding careers.
For years, Teamsters in Stratford, Connecticut, saw a need to connect students in the community to area businesses trying to fill job vacancies. The Sikorsky Corporation, a helicopter plant, was among these businesses. High recruitment costs and other barriers kept the plant from hiring qualified workers. Sikorsky partnered with the local Teamsters group to form the Teamsters/Sikorsky Career Pathways Mentoring Program, a pipeline for students into manufacturing positions.
Through the program, students are selected from eleven area high schools to participate in an eight-week summer internship that provides hands-on work experience facilitated by Teamster mentors. The highly-competitive program only draws from applicants who are enrolled in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program at school.
For the Sikorsky Corporation, the mentorship program provides a new source of skilled workers with fewer recruitment and retention costs. When interns are hired as full-time employees, they require less training and already have work experience and knowledge of the business.
Student interns benefit as well, earning an average of $15 to $17 per hour. For many students, the Career Pathways program has led to a full-time job at Sikorsky. According to one area Teamster, â€œWe brought this program to the company years ago in an effort to promote the advantages of unionized work and to get that message to young people. What we didnâ€™t anticipate at the time was the personal impact the program would have on the students and the mentors who have participated.â€
An article in this monthâ€™s Teamster magazine, â€œA Milestone in Youth Development: Career Pathways Mentoring Program Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence,â€ highlights this successful program. Read more on the programâ€™s website.
Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst