Need for the EETP

There is a significant gap between the skills that high-wage employers look for in entry-level applicants and the skills provided to low-income youth in public schools. Most salient among these desired skills for high-wage employment is literacy and numeracy. In one employer survey, for instance, basic literacy and numeracy were highly desirable in entry-level applicants while higher-order mathematics, science, reading and writing skills were all perceived to be relatively unimportant.

Yet many low-income youth become discouraged when learning basic literacy and numeracy, which they perceive as mundane as they tackle seemingly more complex tasks elsewhere. We intend to fill this gap by teaching literacy and numeracy indirectly within these two pathways toward economic self-sufficiency, using strategies that young people relate to and find directly beneficial to their economic futures.

Young people can either make a job (entrepreneurship) or take a job (wage employment). The EETP is an opportunity for youth to discover if they would like to work for themselves and run their own business or pursue their dream job. The EETP serves an urgent need for both entrepreneurship and work readiness in low-income communities.

The need for entrepreneurship training so disadvantaged youth can expand the possibilities for self-created wealth and job creation in their communities is urgent. Recent figures show 11% of businesses owned by Hispanic men and 6% of those owned by African-American men had employees compared to 23.9% of businesses owned by white men. In parallel, 4.6% of businesses owned by Hispanic women and 2.5 percent of those owned by African-American women had employees as compared to 11.9% of white-women-owned businesses.

In the area of work readiness, high-wage employers often have two tiers of hiring that consists of low- and high-wage career tracks. While the high-wage track is characterized by “high productivity, quality, variety and responsiveness to changing consumer preferences,” low wage applicants recruited for the low-wage tracks can expect high turnover, few benefits, and little opportunity for promotion. As low-wage jobs often do not pay enough for an individual to keep their family above the poverty line, any long-term exit strategy from poverty for disadvantaged youth must include the development of the capacity to find and maintain a high-wage job.

Framing the Entrepreneurship and Employment Training Program as an opportunity for self-efficacy, innovation and creativity helps to engage youth through a power, high-impact model that accentuates their higher-level critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills. Certainly, not every participant will launch their own business; nonetheless, entrepreneurship training provides the skills and concrete steps to build something of their own as a viable exit strategy from poverty. The programming is also designed so participants will graduate knowing how wage employment works. We provide this training through a series of panels, field trips, mock interviews, resume building workshops and one-on-one mentoring.

Global Education Partnership, the former nonprofit organization directed by CSL’s President, Dr. Anthony Silard, provided entrepreneurial training to prepare students at 6 Oakland public high schools to launch Student-run Businesses such as Knight’s Cafe, a coffee concession at the Oakland Airport that was launched by EETP graduates from Castlemont High School in July 1996, and became the most successful Student-run Business at any airport in America, grossing over $30,000 per month in sales.

We believe the day you find or create the job you love is the last day you have to work. Through the EETP, each young person develops a compelling vision for the impact they wish to make and what they want to accomplish in their career that guides them toward not only economic self-sufficiency but career fulfillment. The disadvantaged youth in our community deserve to learn these critical skills so they can discover their own unique career paths to economic self-sufficiency.

Contact CSL if you are interested in setting up an Entrepreneurship and Employment Training Program in your region, focus area or funding area.