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Students Call for More Mentorships, Access and Support

By Diangelo Andrews & Liz Kilkenny

Valley Vision joined youth, employers, educators, and service providers for the Sacramento Youth Summit on August 9th.  The event, led by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s Office and co-sponsored by Sacramento State, aimed to unite young individuals aged 16 to 24, employers, educators, and service providers. The goal was to learn about and address the challenges the city’s youth face as they transition from education to employment.

The morning session included opening remarks by Mayor Steinberg, President Wood, and others emphasizing the importance of cooperation and dedication to driving change for equitable access to programs and mentorships for the city’s youth. Following, the day’s activities were divided into two tracks: one for employers, educators, and practitioners, with a second for youth.   

Valley Vision’s 21st Century Workforce Impact area team attended the event and hosted a breakout session for youth participants.  Liz Kilkenny, Project Associate, noted the emphasis from youth panelists on the need for more mentorships.  “Youth expressed a desire for more opportunities to be with people who share their demographics and history, who have already walked the path they are trying to walk and have become successful.  They want mentors who can show them the way, not just point them in a direction.”  Project Associate DiAngelo Andrews noted young people are voicing the same concerns throughout the region in multiple initiatives he has participated in.  “Young people are consistently expressing a need to address transportation and safety concerns, and the need for clear access to resources with support on how to use them to be successful in employment and their overall lives. The same problems have existed generationally; the time to solve them is now.”  Project Leader Hilary Tellesen shares, “Young people are hungry for someone to guide them to and through resources and processes, including applying for scholarships, job applications, interview preparation, and researching careers.”  

During the interactive breakout session, Valley Vision hosted entitled “What Employers Are Looking For,” youth learned about the top in-demand skills represented in job posting data and what those skills mean. Our team shared the importance of developing adaptable workplace skills, including communication, teamwork, and overall professionalism to meet the needs of employers in a constantly changing marketplace. Youth had an opportunity to create an introductory elevator pitch and practice with their peers.  Additional information was provided on how skills are changing with the increase in technology adoption and guidance on how to be prepared for the future of work.  Youth attendees were meaningfully engaged, asked good questions, and were actively searching for practices to improve their opportunities to transition to a successful career.  

In summary, the Sacramento Youth Summit allowed young community members to express their opinions and share their perspectives to inform Sacramento’s educators, employers, service providers, and decision makers.  Youth attendees gained practical knowledge and had ample networking time with many panelists and industry representatives. The summit facilitated significant conversations and encouraged cooperative efforts between industry experts, workforce stakeholders, and program developers to address future labor and skills shortages by engaging the city’s youth.  Valley Vision was pleased to be involved and do our part to foster a highly skilled and adaptable workforce that meets regional employers’ evolving needs.