Amidst all the public gnashing of teeth over the workplace “skills gap,” one large employer has taken solving the problem into its own hands. And it might just be a model that more companies could emulate.
Lifespan recently graduated 93 young people from its Summer Youth Employment Program, the ninth class of the initiative’s existence. The eight-week “job interview,” as the program’s director refers to it, teaches participants not just about what opportunities there are in the health care field, but imparts job and life skills to which many of the often disadvantaged youth have had no exposure.
Over the years, more than 100 graduates of the program have been hired by the hospital chain, which is the state’s largest private employer. And while many of the hires are entry level, often in the patient transportation department of Rhode Island Hospital, that foot in the door can be a springboard to more technical jobs, ones that require more education and experience, and most importantly, that pay more.
In many ways, the Lifespan program is one way for the company to give back to the community it serves. But this effort is not charity. In creating and investing in the program, Lifespan is helping not only itself, but is supporting the entire state’s workforce development efforts. And putting extra meaning in the phrase, good corporate citizen. •