By Kirk Fistick, MHD and Shana Jarvis, Aspire Youth
Over the past few months Multi-Housing Depot has developed a unique workforce development partnership with a small Burlington County organization called Aspire Youth Development. Since the collaboration began in late 2018, MHD has provided work experience “internships” to six young men and women involved in a program called The Young Adult Career Initiative (YACI).
YACI is funded by the Burlington County Workforce Development Board. It provides no-cost services to young adults, ages 16–24 who meet specific eligibility requirements. Aspire has served close to 100 participants through this program, providing a variety of services, including support with GED-classes, workplace skills training, personal supportive services and subsidies for paid work experience. A key component of the program is also case management and mentorship, which helps ensure young adults not only have resources for success, but someone to hold them accountable and provide guidance on both career and life decisions.
Our initial goals of the Aspire partnership were simple: create opportunities to expose the emerging workforce to career pathways in the advanced manufacturing industry and create a pipeline of young talent with an entry-level skill set. However, over the past several months our collaboration has developed into a much more holistic experience for the interns and provided employees with countless ways to give back to their community. Our employees at MHD have embraced the partnership and specifically embraced our YACI interns.
The interns are currently in the second half of a 12 week paid-internship, spending about 30 hours per week working alongside MHD staff in all stages of their career. Throughout the experience, several employees have stepped up to act as “Career Mentors” to the new employees. They provide the interns with career-focused advice on opportunities in the industry and share their personal career pathway stories. Our staff has also developed both professional and personal friendships with the Aspire interns. When a recent personal tragedy struck several of the interns, our amazing team of employees stepped up to offer support and resources. From a listening ear to providing temporary housing support, MHD employees demonstrated their compassion and commitment to ensuring the interns remain on a path to success. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Aspire Youth Development, to foster an awareness and interest in the advanced manufacturing industry and provide career opportunities for at-risk young adults.