The Natural Assets That Workforce and Career Development Programs Miss

Job-seekers have community connections (what we call familial and developmental connections: family members, neighbors, former teachers, church members, etc.) that could be beneficial to their long-term economic mobility. Unfortunately, the occupations of many of these potential community career boosters remain unknown. Unfortunately, many workforce and mentoring programs place little effort in helping individuals strategically connect to these important sources of labor market information and career development support. Furthermore, these community assets are the ones to whom job seekers remain connected well after they have exited from program rosters.

In our five years of training hundreds of career development professionals, it's surprising that 80% secured their current job through a connection but don't have a curriculum or system to help the job seekers they serve to do the same. Job-seekers, like them, already know the people who will help them get a job. So how is your staff helping them knock on the door?

In the case of asset-based youth development programs, why not start with the assets young people have in their own back pockets? Those assets are their social capital.

Here's a question we want and honestly answer: "How much time does your program spend helping job seekers identify the individuals they know who can help them build a bridge to future economic success?"