Per Scholas and FEGS launch YouthBridge IT Prep for Young Adults

New York City is facing a historic crisis in young adult employment. Since 2000, the percentage of 16 to 24 year olds across the five boroughs participating in the labor market has fallen from 45 percent to 29 percent. Last fall, Per Scholas and our partners were selected by JobsFirstNYC to devise sector-based employment solutions for the 172,000 young adults in New York City who are neither working nor in school. For six months, Per Scholas convened with a team of partners that included education and youth development experts as well as employer-focused intermediaries. Through our work with FEGS, BronxWorks, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation and JobsFirstNYC, we learned how we could better prepare young adults who are “out-of-school, out-of-work and out of options” for careers in information technology.

YouthBridge IT Prep

During the planning period, we identified a core issue for young applicants to Per Scholas. Tech-savvy young, adults make great program candidates, but sometimes lack the academic preparation to qualify for our IT Ready course, which requires at least a tenth grade reading and math level.

In partnership with FEGS’s Bronx Youth Center, we designed a 5-week course for 18-25 year olds who are otherwise good candidates for Per Scholas, but score between an 8.0 and 9.9 on one or both sections of our admissions test, the TABE. Over the five weeks, students receive 40 hours of academic instruction at FEGS and a 15-hour introduction to information technology at Per Scholas. If students successfully raise their TABE scores to the tenth grade level, they are admitted automatically to the next cycle of Per Scholas’s IT Ready program.

Last year’s planning process also taught us that young adults need more support to successfully complete training and remain connected to the program. Our new Young Adult Case Manager provides a continuous supportive presence for YouthBridge participants, as well as IT Ready students age 18-25, from their first day in the program through job placement.

With the generous support of JP Morgan Chase via, JobsFirstNYC and the Pinkerton Foundation, YouthBridge IT Prep launched its first pilot cycle on October 6th with an additional eleven cycles planned over the next two years. Through our partnership with FEGS and an increased focuse on recruiting and supporting young adults, we expect to infuse New York City’s IT workforce with the unique capabilities and energy that young people bring to the technology sector.

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