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Preparing the Next generation of workers

We asked Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu how their cities are arming economically vulnerable young people with the skills to succeed.

Mayor Hancock
Mayor Landrieu

WHAT IS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY’S ROLE IN EQUIPPING YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENTER THE WORKFORCE?

Mayor Hancock: Preparing the next generation of workers has to be a shared responsibility across the business, nonprofit and government sectors. Employers need the talent, and for Denver to remain economically competitive, we need to continually feed that talent pool. We make sure we understand the private sector’s needs and partner with them to put together curriculum and programs that will prepare their workforce pipeline.

Mayor Landrieu: Employers are the most important partners in the workforce system. Through the Anchor Collaborative, my team has regularly convened business leaders, testing workforce innovation and building trust with and among local major employers. Government alone cannot adequately respond to workforce challenges.

One of the most critical tasks of a mayor is to shift leadership and ownership of economic opportunity and workforce development from government to industry.

HOW ARE YOU MAKING SURE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE IN YOUR CITY’S ECONOMIC GROWTH?

Mayor Hancock: As the employment base has changed, it’s not as much about the degree you have — although certifications and degrees are important — as it is the practical skills you bring to the marketplace. Particularly for those who are underskilled, undereducated and challenged economically, we have to make sure they have the skills to be competitive.

Denver Public Schools has a tremendous career education platform, and we are collaborating with them to reach out to disconnected youth and provide skill building opportunities that will help them find gainful employment.

We’ve got myriad efforts to break down barriers and create opportunities. We’re not just leaving it to the market or to chance.

Mayor Landrieu: In order for New Orleans to reach her full potential, all New Orleanians must participate in the city’s economic growth. We support creating career pathways in key economic clusters. Because of the wide range of skill sets or education needed for these high-demand industries, it presents employment opportunities for youth at every point on the economic spectrum.

New Orleans has a strong, cross-sector collaborative with EMPLOY, which works to decrease the number of disconnected youth ages 18 to 24. EMPLOY aims to create a common language across employers and workforce development agencies to ensure that youth are trained to successfully meet industry demands and sustain themselves and their families through high-growth careers.