Training Citizens While Training Workers: Strengthening Ties Between Civic Engagement and Workforce Development Efforts

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1 Training Citizens While Training Workers: Strengthening Ties Between Civic Engagement and Workforce Development Efforts Final Report of the Task Force on Civic Engagement and Workforce Development January 2006

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3 Minnesota Campus Compact would like to thank all of the Task Force members who donated their time and energy to this effort. We would especially like to thank Target, Best Buy and Metropolitan State University for their generosity by hosting Task Force meetings. Task Force Members Andre Lewis, Co-Chair Jon Pratt, Co-Chair Joan Volkmuth, Co-Chair Erik Aamoth Adriana Abariotes Deborah Atterberry Mike Bauer Rommel Carlson Mike Christianson Phillip Davis Jacqueline Fraedrich William Frame Steve Froeschl Jean Hammink Betsy Hearn Sherry Holtz Cris Kling Mark Langseth Cal Larson William Lowe Philomena Morrissey Satre Ron Nelson Nicholas Ng Gregg Peterson Karen Powell Raul Ramos James Rhodes David Rodbourne Jane Samargia Mary Beth Schubert Carrie Thomas Carmen Uecker Neva Walker Terry Williams RBC Dain Rauscher Minnesota Council of Nonprofits St. Cloud Technical College State of Minnesota Twin Cities LISC Employment Action Center Ryan Companies US Inc. United Parcel Service City of Minneapolis Minneapolis Community and Technical College Robbinsdale Area Schools District #281 Augsburg College Minnesota Life insideoutcomes Target Corporation Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Otter Tail Power Company Minnesota Campus Compact Minnesota Senate Metropolitan State University Wells Fargo former VP and controller of 3M The St. Paul Companies, Inc. Medtronic Neurological Park Nicollet MnSCU Xcel Energy Foundation Center for Ethical Business Cultures HIRED Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. Jobs Now Coalition Best Buy Co., Inc. Minnesota House of Representatives American Express MN Philanthropic Program About Minnesota Campus Compact Minnesota Campus Compact (www.mncampuscompact.org) is a coalition of college and university presidents committed to strengthening communities through campus-community partnerships and through education for informed and active citizenship. Minnesota Campus Compact is the only statewide coalition that brings together a critical mass of presidents from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and Minnesota s private colleges under common agenda. For more information regarding this brief or on Minnesota Campus Compact please contact John Hamerlinck,

4 Training Citizens While Training Workers: Strengthening the Ties Between Civic Engagement and Workforce Development Introduction In what ways can pursuing public good also enhance our ability as a state to maintain a strong workforce? How does the concept of doing well by doing good manifest itself in the broad arena of workforce development? In late 2004, Minnesota Campus Compact convened a special Task Force on Civic Engagement and Workforce Development to discuss these and other questions and capture best practices in an effort to encourage the development of a future workforce that is both technically and civically competent. Three core beliefs compelled the formation of this Task Force: 1. We believe that Minnesota employers from business, government, education and nonprofit sectors desire more employees and prospective employees who possess not only technical skills, but who also can work effectively with diverse others, put the good of the whole above the good of self, and understand the importance of ethical behavior and positive community engagement. Minnesota Campus Compact has consistently heard this message in our interactions with employers over the past ten years. 2. We believe that the historic success of Minnesota s economic and social life has been made possible by two complementary traditions: technical professionalism the skills needed to do things well and civic professionalism respect for the common good. Unfortunately, as Sullivan (1995), Putnam (2000) and others have revealed that our tradition of civic professionalism and our high levels of social capital have recently shown signs of wear, both nationally and in Minnesota. 3. We believe that the process of developing productive workers is inextricable from the process of developing active citizens. Traditional approaches to workforce development which focus on technical professionalism and largely ignore larger public or civic concerns are inadequate if we wish to maintain Minnesota s historic high quality of life. Definitions Workforce Development is the coordination of school, company, and governmental policies and programs such that as a collective they enable individuals the opportunity to realize a sustainable livelihood and organizations to achieve exemplary goals, consistent with the history, culture, and goals of the societal context (Jacobs, 2002). This definition suggests that, to be most effective, workforce development programs, should ultimately be responsive to societal-level economic development and social goals. Thus, workforce development is a programmatic response to a societal need and, as such, should not be limited in scope to a specific organization or should be designed so that only one or another set of individuals succeed. Rather, workforce development seeks to bridge the individual, organizational, and societal interests, in ways that meaningfully benefit each other (Jacobs & Hawley, 2005). Workers could include, but are not limited to: K-12 students exploring career options Someone on a career development path within a company Under-employed workers People new to the paid workforce Workers in the public, private or nonprofit sector People changing careers Managers in leadership training 3

5 Civic Engagement - A wide variety of activities might be considered civic engagement. These include, but are not limited to: Charitable Volunteerism - (tutoring, mentoring, serving food at a soup kitchen, etc.) Voting/Formal Political Activities - (voting, voter registration, campaign work, voter s forums, etc.) Grassroots Political Activity/Public Policy Work - (activities that help people identify allies, build common ground and implement a strategy for community improvement) Community Building - (activities that build trusting relationships among individuals and groups around issues of common concern creating social capital) Why Should Employers and Employees Be Interested in Civic Engagement? Our communities benefit in countless ways when workforce development and civic engagement work in unison. Diverse segments of the community work together to address common challenges. A greater sense of place and civic pride emerge and according to Business Strengthening America, there are also numerous benefits accrued by employers and their employees when workers engaged with their community. Benefits for Employees Builds the leadership skills needed for personal and career success Make potential job contacts Builds the skills needed to make a difference, personally, socially, and politically, in the community Greater understanding of the value of diversity in the community Students who participate in service are more likely to graduate. Benefits for Employers Positive image in the communities where the company does business Increased employee morale Feeling of pride throughout the company Better communities in which to do business Greater understanding of the value of diversity in the community Increased customer awareness and appreciation Enhances teamwork skills (Business, 2004) Civic engagement as an employment incentive works both ways. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, from 2003 to 2004, the voluntary average employee turnover rate in the U.S. was just over 20% (Nobscot, 2004). Civic engagement can be a significant part of attraction and retention strategies for employers. Quality workers are looking for employers that demonstrate similar commitment to the community (Greening & Turban, 2000) According to the 2001 National Employee Benchmark Study, 73% of employees highly involved in volunteer programs say their employer s support for their efforts has made them more committed to their jobs (Cone & Feldman, 2003). The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study reported that 81 percent of Americans consider a company's social commitment when deciding where to work (Cone Inc., 2003). Examples Where are communities, businesses, schools or agencies adopting policies and practices that achieve simultaneous societal and private outcomes? One of the primary goals of the task force was to compile examples of efforts where the successful merging of workforce development and civic engagement concerns have been achieved. The value in presenting these stories is that they provide tangible evidence that social responsibility and the creation of livelihoods for people do not have to be separate goals. 4

6 It can be argued that any time you train someone and give him or her a job (thus bringing them out of poverty); a greater social good is achieved. In the examples presented here, however, there is a more deliberate merging of these two goals. A common thread of collaboration exists among all of these examples. Agencies and organizations are forging partnerships that help achieve the goals of both partners while improving the quality of life of individuals and of their communities. Building Lives: A Youth Offender Demonstration Program HIRED During the past two years, four hundred six (406) youth in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system have been served by Building Lives. They are age living in Saint Paul s Enterprise Community, the most disadvantaged part of Saint Paul. Building Lives is calling the community to action in new ways. It is a partnership of Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, HIRED, St. Paul Public Schools, the YWCA of St. Paul, Guadalupe Alternative Programs and Ramsey County Corrections. Each organization has examined its practices, adjusted to work together and created a new synergy. For example, Building Lives has been fundamental in creating systems change in the way the Ramsey County corrections system and its offender population is connected to the workforce. Previously Ramsey County Corrections did not work with employment programs at such an intensive level. The St. Paul Public Schools has begun to develop effective systems to serve this challenging population, resulting in increased attendance, increased credit accumulation, and fewer disciplinary actions for students that are at high risk of dropping out of school. The goal is not only employment for youth offenders, but to create a change in the approach to re-integrating youthful offenders into the community. Many community based non-profit organizations have worked with Building Lives to jointly serve their populations. One example is the Hmong American Partnership, an expert in working with Hmong gangs. An employment bonus supplemental grant has cultivated many employer relationships within the Enterprise Community. The goal is not only employment for youth offenders, but to create a change in the approach to reintegrating youthful offenders into the community. HIRED developed 144 internship opportunities with area employers, in addition to unsubsidized job placements. Outcomes of this community effort have been very positive. Only 6% have re-offended since entering the program as compared to a 35% expectancy rate; The average cost of incarcerating one youth in Ramsey County is estimated at $22,000. With the low reoffense rate, it is estimated that this program, through June 30, 2004, has saved Ramsey County $1.4 million in incarceration costs. At least 154 participants have earned income and generated tax dollars through employment since entering the program. College Collaborates with City to Build Affordable Housing St. Cloud Technical College In the summer of 2005 building trades students from St. Cloud Technical College completed work on the first of five homes to be built on an abandoned warehouse site in St. Cloud. The partnership with the City of St. Cloud gives students in technical programs such as Carpentry, Electrical Construction Technology, Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration and Plumbing the opportunity to apply the skills of their trade. It also enlightened students on the issue of affordable housing while helping to address the issue locally. Over 200 students participated in the construction of the home. The school will build one home a year on the site for the next five years. 5

7 The Young Dads Program Employment Action Center, a division of RESOURCE, Inc. EAC s Young Dads program serves 120 young dads, age 15-26, and their 300 plus children per year. 86% of them are either homeless or living in temporary, unstable housing. 95% are people of color and come from impoverished inner city communities. 49% of the participants have not earned a high school Diploma or GED. 40% have custody or are seeking custody of their children (the mothers have left or have drug problems). 89% of participants were unemployed when they enrolled in the program. When they enter the program most are behind on their child support. The Young Dads program provides services, which assist the young dads to finish school, learn parenting skills, and conflict management/life skills, financial skills, locate affordable training programs, prepare for employment/career, secure employment and support their children. Young Dads has evolved over ten years and gained expertise in meeting the complex needs of this under served and little understood population. Young Dads is the only experienced program in the Greater Minneapolis and St. Paul Metro Area. Young Dads participants collaborate with Catholic Charities. Once a month participants serve a meal to homeless people at the Catholic Charities branch on Chicago Ave. They also assist the Fair for All (Helping People Help Their Neighbors and Themselves) initiative. The young fathers deliver groceries to people who are not able to get their own, and, in turn, receive a free bag of groceries. This provides the young fathers with a sense of their community and themselves as responsible citizens in the community. In addition Young Dads participants assist yearly with the statewide celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, assist the African American Male Project frequently at social functions and community forums, and attend Minneapolis City Council meetings and Hennepin County Commissioners meetings to be informed on political processes, especially as these affect the young fathers and their community. Both workforce development and civic engagement are intimately associated with the concept of lifelong learning. As jobs become stepping-stones to careers, a wide variety of opportunities are needed to develop the knowledge and skills of workers on career ladders within organizations. Though they are not always designated as "workforce development" programs, many corporate volunteer programs are intended to build leadership and other skills in a company's workforce. Habitat for Humanity St. Paul Travelers St. Paul Travelers encourages volunteers to participate in a corporate Habitat for Humanity effort, where employees work together to help build a house (or three in last year s case) in a local St. Paul neighborhood. This effort has grown immensely from its inception the Habitat for Humanity program at St. Paul Travelers initially started because the St. Paul Foundation provided funding to Habitat for Humanity and wanted to put a face on funding efforts by volunteering one Saturday a month during the summer. This initial effort has expanded substantially: in 1999, employees managed to build their first entire house with little to no additional volunteer time from outside volunteers; today, an organized group of St. Paul Travelers volunteers will schedule multiple groups of employees to build four condominiums before the summer is over. The main goal... is to help build the community where we work, but a peripheral benefit is building teamwork with new people throughout the company. The main goal of this example of civic engagement is to help build the community where we work, but a peripheral benefit is building teamwork with new people throughout the company. 6

8 Specifically, people from departments typically volunteer together and learn to work as a team in an unfamiliar setting. Alternatively, people from different departments will work on the same house; in this way, new connections and relationships are built, bringing the company together in a way that is hard to achieve on the job. The program manages to touch across functional boundaries, building credible professional relationships and allowing for better communication across the company. The walls of protection that sometimes exist between divisions and employees thus fall down, creating a more cohesive workforce. Employees benefit further by getting the opportunity to take on different roles and demonstrate previously unrecognized skills. Someone who has never had the opportunity to lead might get the chance to act as project manager for a day, which develops better leadership skills while also showcasing those leadership qualities already present. Habitat for Humanity work also builds the ability to delegate and manage tasks effectively and efficiently, which has obvious relevance in the workplace. From a corporate perspective, the Habitat for Humanity program presents St. Paul Travelers as a stable, reliable, and conscientious corporate citizen within the community. Finally, the work with Habitat for Humanity is transferable across the country, which is important for a company with a national presence volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is way for employees from different national offices to connect and add meaning to relationships throughout the company. TagTeam Awards Best Buy Best Buy integrates community engagement with workforce development by supporting employee-driven community involvement. The company creates a unique partnership between the community and the development of its employees through the Tag Team Volunteer program. The program allows employees to choose how they will contribute to the community; in turn, Best Buy recognizes those contributions though monetary donations to community partners and two awards: The Tag Team Award and the President s Volunteer Service Award. Best Buy s TagTeam Award program recognizes employees for their volunteer efforts at qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. In FY 05, there were 268 TagTeam awards, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. Employees donated over 18,000 volunteer hours by participating in the TagTeam Award program. In response, the Best Buy Children s Foundation awarded over $236,000 to hundreds of organizations. Best Buy Employees also have the opportunity to earn $1,000 for the nonprofit organization they support. Full-time and part-time employees are eligible. Two final stories about food and food for thought Kitchen of Opportunities Urban Ventures The mission of the Kitchen of Opportunities is to feed people in poverty by recycling the surplus of the Twin Cities' food supply into healthy meals, and connect people to living wage jobs by training them to be certified food handlers. In 2001, Urban Ventures attracted 13 donors and managed a $1.3 million renovation of 3,000 square feet of space in its headquarters building to provide a 10-room customized kitchen, storage and training facility to its tenant and partner, Second Harvest Heartland. Before it opened this kitchen, Second Harvest distributed 32 million pounds of recovered or donated food to 700 sites serving the needy in 61 Minnesota and Wisconsin counties. In four years, they have trained 100 men and women to prepare and package 7,700 meals, which were delivered for non-profit use. 7

9 By striking contrast, when the new kitchen is fully operational, Second Harvest will be able to produce up to 3,000 meals in a single day and train up to 125 workers per year. Meals are sold for $1.50 each to make the program selfsustaining. When the nine-week program is at full strength, up to 25 students at a time will receive culinary training, consisting of a half-day of classroom instruction and a half-day of food production. Seventy-five percent of all graduates from the program, formerly called Mise-en-Place, were successfully placed in food service jobs in restaurants, schools, bakeries, hospitals, hotels, etc. Eligible students are referred from 40 Twin Cities job-training agencies. These are generally men and women who can't afford to attend a culinary institute. They receive, at no cost, the training and experience they need to find entry-level jobs and the work habits they need to keep them. Campus Kitchens Augsburg College The Campus Kitchens Project at Augsburg College is part of a national initiative that brings colleges and universities together with student volunteers, on-campus dining services professionals, and community organizations to combat hunger in cities across the United States. The College coordinates food donations, prepares and delivers meals to area social service agencies, teaches basic food preparation and culinary skills to unemployed and underemployed men and women, and provides service learning opportunities for students. By partnering with local chefs and employment organizations, Campus Kitchen was able to provide these men and women with the opportunity to gain valuable job skills, experience, and potential employment in the foodservice industry through hands-on experience in a professional culinary environment. Twelve students have graduated thus far, all of them exiting our program as Certified Professional Food Managers. One of the program's graduates, Israel Sandoval, is now currently employed with Sodexho as part of Augsburg s Dining Services. He enjoyed our program so much that he still volunteers with us occasionally when his full-time work schedule allows. For 2006, the project is looking to expand this program to four consecutive 10-week classes per year. This continuity will increase the efficacy of the Training Program by allowing college students and Culinary Job Trainees to work alongside and learn from each other while meeting additional needs of the Minneapolis community. We are currently lining up kitchen logistics, guest chef appearances, and potential trainees for our first program in March. We hope to graduate as many as 30 trainees this year. Conclusion These are just some of the stories that remind us that numerous opportunities exist to strengthen communities while giving workers the skills they need to succeed in today s workforce. We are also reminded that in many cases, the same residents whose communities may be struggling with the challenges that an engaged citizenry must overcome as a community are often people who also may not be benefiting fully from available workforce development opportunities. We also recognize that workforce development and civic engagement efforts can increase their effectiveness by identifying their common goals, acting cooperatively and sharing expertise. According to Dr. John Saltmarsh, workforce development programs are designed to help people build knowledge and a skill set for a particular job or career. In addition to job-specific skills, people also need to develop knowledge and skills and dispositions that are 8

10 transportable across multiple career changes. These transportable skills include things like communication proficiency, team building and working across intercultural and intergenerational differences skills that might be taught best through deliberate civic engagement (Saltmarsh, 2005). This set of aptitudes is also associated with the benefits of a college education grounded in the liberal arts and can be learned and refined through a variety of models of service-learning. These soft skills are becoming increasingly important as many of the fastest growing career fields (education, health care, personal services, etc.) require people with good civic skills. A civically engaged workforce is possible and necessary in all employment sectors and across all sizes of organizations. As Harry Boyte and Nancy Kari remind us, serious citizenship... means working alongside people with whom we may disagree about moral issues or with whom we may not wish to live in community, for the sake of broader objectives (Boyte & Kari, 1996). This doesn t just mean that we simply need to teach workers to get along with one another. We need workers who also see themselves as citizens. This country's diminishing level of participation in civic life and the loss of social capital are well documented. The workplace is somewhere where civic skills are practiced daily. For a variety of reasons, however, this democratic practice doesn't necessarily extend to civil society. Workers on construction sites, in kitchens, schools, shops and workplaces of all kinds are constantly engaged in shared decision-making, consensus building, goal setting and countless other civic skills. Connecting their development as workers to civic activity can demonstrate the multiple ways that workers may also use their democratic skills to benefit the larger community. 9

11 Works Cited Boyte, H. and Kari, N. Building America: The Democratic Promise of Public Work. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, Business Strengthening America Report to the Nation. January Retrieved October 20, 2005 from Cone, C., Feldman, M., & DaSilva, A. (2003) Causes and Effects. Harvard Business Review, July, Cone Incorporated. (2002) Cone Corporate Citizenship Study. Boston. Retrieved from Greening, Daniel W. and Daniel B. Turban (2000). Corporate Social Performance as a Competitive Advantage in Attracting a Quality Workforce. Business & Society, September, 39 (3): Jacobs, R. Understanding Workforce Development: Definition, Conceptual Boundaries, and Future Perspectives Paper Presented at the International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Winnipeg, Manitoba. October, Retrieved online October 1, 2004 from 2002conference/text/papers/jacobs.pdf Jacobs, R., & Hawley, J. (In press, 2005). Emergence of workforce development: Definition, conceptual boundaries, and future perspectives. In R. MacLean and D. Wilson (eds.), International Handbook of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Bonn, Germany: UNESCO-UNEVOC. Nobscot Corporation. Retention Management and Metrics. Retrieved from Putnam, R. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster, Saltmarsh, J. Civic Engagement and Workforce Development: Stronger Together. April, Retrieved October 20, 2005 from www2.selu.edu/administration/president/ lcc/ce%20and%20workforce%20dev%20rev.doc Sullivan, W. Work and Integrity: The Crisis and Promise of Professionalism in America. New York: HarperCollins,

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