The skillspages.com website is designed to provide a topic-by-topic outline of information and skills needed for work in youth employment programs, as well as quick reference and training tools to help people with the use of the Massachusetts Career Ready Database and the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan.  Topics include:

1. Using the Work-Based Learning Plan

2. Using the Massachusetts Career Ready Database

3. Working with Youth, Employers, Schools and Communities

4. Forms, Procedures and Policies

5. The Connecting Activiites Initiative

The topic outline provides an introduction to some of the basics about working in the Connecting Activities initiative and in other youth employment programs and career development programs. Each item on the main menu introduces a topic, provides a link to an introductory article or PowerPoint presentation, and suggests follow-up activities to reinforce what you have read.

Through the resources included for each topic, you can also find materials to continue your professional development.  You will also learn from peer-to-peer training, workshops, statewide conferences, and online reading and resources.  And, of course, you will learn from your own hands-on experiences.

Roles of Program Staff and Skills Used.

- Program staff bring expertise in working with employers, schools, youth and community partners.  Staff may come from a background in education, guidance, workforce development, human resources, youth programming, or other related fields.  Staff all bring different skills to the job, and continually develop additional skills and strategies through their work.

- Staff may play many different roles, drawing on many different skills.  Roles include working with school and community partners; working with the employer community to identify job placement opportunities; working with youth to prepare them for work experiences and to match them with placement opportunities; working with both employers to facilitate development of job descriptions, skills/tasks, and performance reviews; entering information into the database; and using information from the database to manage day-to-day work and get ideas for program improvement.

- Like the youth in the our programs, staff exercise a range of career skills, including leadership, interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, managing information, creativity and critical thinking.

This topic outline provides some of the basic knowledge you need to get started.  Beyond these basics, you can invest time in developing skills in youth development, employer outreach, program design, career development, workplace readiness skills, data management and reporting, and many more areas.


1. Using the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan

Getting Started

Read: Implementing the Work-Based Learning Plan (booklet with red cover; available here to read online)

Read: WBLP Introductory Workshop Exercises

View PowerPoint: Introduction to the Work-Based Learning Plan (There are several versions of this introduction - for youth, for employers, or for general/any audience).

View Video: http://www.massconnecting.org/employers#video

Through the reading, PowerPoint presentations and video, you will become familiar with the purpose of the WBLP; the history of the WBLP; the benefits of using the WBLP, including benefits to the employer, participant and staff; the steps involved in implementing the WBLP; where to find suggestions and ideas about job descriptions, skills and tasks to include in the WBLP; and tips about conducting reviews.

As follow-up:

  • Talk with colleagues in your region or program to learn more about specific steps followed in implementing the WBLP. In your region or program, who usually writes the job description, skills and tasks? Who facilitates the reviews? Are WBLPs created through the database screens, pen-and-paper, or both? Are there any current thoughts about changing the implementation process?
  • For your own notes, create a flowchart showing the steps for creating a WBLP.
  • For your own notes, create a list of 3-5 benefits of using the WBLP.

To Learn More:

  • Subscribe to the Skills Pages Youth Employment Blog and read past articles to read about job description, skills/tasks and other features of WBLPs statewide.
  • In the database, browse the bank of sample job descriptions and skills/tasks to see more examples.
  • In the database, browse the skills reports available from the Reports/Admin menu. Run Report 1: Skill Gain; Report 2A: Skills Used; and Report 7: Job Titles, to get an overview of job placements in your region.
  • Attend conferences and workshops to share best practices with others
  • Read and discuss the "Using the WBLP" workshop handout.

2. Using the Massachusetts Career Ready Database

Getting Started

 

Go to the RESOURCES section of the menu and click to open the PowerPoint Presentations page.  View following three PowerPoint presentations:

 

- Navigating the Database

- Registering and Signing In

- Using the Placement Screen

 

 

As follow-up,

 

  • Create a username and password and sign in. (Note: If you are program staff, check with your regional office or with Jennifer Leonard for an access code. For employer or intern database passwords, the access code is not necessary.)
  • Enter one placement and WBLP. This may be for a real student or a fictional student.
  • Have a colleague review what you have entered.
  • (If the placement is fictional, have your colleague show you how to delete the placement.)
  • Explore http://skillspages.com/masswbl to become familiar with the resources available online

 

To learn more:

  • Go to http://skillspages.com/masswbl to further browse the resources available online
  • Read “Using the Reports/Admin Menu”
  • Go to the Reports/Admin Menu and run and print 2-3 reports as an example.

 


 

3.  Working with Youth, Employers, Schools and Communities

Getting Started

Read: Youth Development Concepts

Read: Synergy and Employer Outreach

Read: Raising Graduation Rates

Read: College and Career Planning

If you are new to Connecting Activities, visit schools in your region with another staff person in order to meet school-based staff and see and hear about key programs in the school.

As a follow-up:

  • With a colleague, write an answer to the following: “In 45 seconds or less, describe what your program offers to employers and youth and schools.”
  • With a colleague, list 2-3 ways that your region’s Connecting Activities program provides “asset-based” programming.
  • With a colleague, list 2-3 things that employers in your community find attractive about Connecting Activities programming.
  • With a colleague, list 2-3 ways that schools benefit from Connecting Activities programming.

To learn more:

1.) Continue reading the links and articles in this section.

2.) Investigate local initiatives in your school and community: what are some of the current local initiatives to support youth, raise graduation rates, and support college and career readiness?

3.) Look for workshops or classes on the topics of interest - youth development, employer outreach, career development, marketing, social media, dropout prevention, or other topics.


4. Forms, Policies and Procedures

Getting Started

1.) Read the Forms, Procedures and Practices page and make a list of any questions to ask your colleagues about forms, practices and procedures in your program.

2.) Visit and review the materials on the ESE "Health and Safety" webpage at http://www.doe.mass.edu/ssce/safety.html and make a list of pages that you would like to spend more time reading and reviewing.

3.) Become familiar with youth employment and workplace safety from the Office of the Attorney General's "Youth Employment Laws" website http://www.laborlowdown.com/.

As a follow-up:

Make a list of three or more ways that youth in your programs receive guidance to protect their safety in the workplace.

Make a list of three or more ways that your program maintains good communication among students, parents, employers and school staff about expectations of the program.

Make a list of any forms, letters or presentation materials that you would like your program to have that it does not currently have. Find out if this website has any materials you can use; whether another program has a model you can adapt; or work to develop new materials.

READ MORE

Continue reading the materials linked from http://www.doe.mass.edu/ssce/safety.html

 


5. Introduction to the Connecting Activities Initiative

Getting Started

Read Article: Background and History

Visit Websites: http://massconnecting.org and http://www.doe.mass.edu/connect

Read: The most recent statewide annual report for Connecting Activities, available from http://massconnecting.org

From this reading you will learn a brief background and history of the Connecting Activities initiative, read about the goals of the initiative and see the most recent statewide statistics, and more.

As follow-up:

  • Meet with colleagues to learn more about how Connecting Activities is structured in your region.
  • Start a folder (electronic or paper) with “who’s who” in your region, including Connecting Activities staff and staff from other programs that you will interact with.

To learn more:

  • Read the Connecting Activities RFR issued by ESE for the current program year (available on the state CommBuys website or available from your regional office) to learn about the goals and requirements of the Connecting Activities initiative. 
  • Read your region’s Connecting Activities proposal (response to the RFR) for the current program year.
  • Read the task force report of the Integrating College and Career Readiness (ICCR) available from the http://massconnecting.org website.