Teens Learn 'Soft Skills' To Build Strong Futures

August 7, 2019

Be on time. Dress nicely. Maintain a positive attitude.

Landing part-time jobs isn’t as easy as it used to be for today’s teens, because employers say many lack the people skills – also called “soft skills” – needed to impress customers and get along with co-workers.

Without early work experience, young people are more at risk of falling into substance abuse, crime and long spells of unemployment.

To reverse that trend, Community Foundation of Broward Fundholders support Youth Work – one of the 10 Issues That Matter that we have identified as key to Broward’s future. Through job coaching and employment opportunities that develop career skills, Youth Work shapes tomorrow’s workforce.

That includes an innovative Youth Work program through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, where local employers teach teens about customer service and share valuable career skills insights – and then the club helps them find part-time jobs where they keep learning.

It’s all made possible by Foundation Fundholders whose philanthropy empowers young people to build a brighter future – for themselves and for our community.

Here’s how three recent high school graduates, who have participated in the Boys & Girls Club program, say support for Youth Work is enabling them to build career skills:

Jamal Jackson

“They help get you prepared for the workforce. I can take this as a steppingstone to do what I actually want to do,” said Jamal, 18, a graduate of Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale.

Jamal’s job: Bank of America internship

As a Bank of America “digital ambassador,” Jamal greets clients when they enter the bank and introduces them to mobile banking features – teaching them how to use technology to avoid waiting in line.

He says customer service experience gained from his summer job, coupled with the college degree he plans to purse, will get him ready to eventually open his own business.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “Getting insight into how this big business is run … will help me structure and organize how I can run my business.”

Diamond Santos

“I learned teamwork. Respect. How to help others,” said Diamond, 17, a graduate of Summerset Prep in North Lauderdale.

Diamond’s job: Wawa customer service associate

Working the cash register at Wawa teaches Diamond more than just making change fast for a long line of customers. It’s about the responsibility of managing money for the company. It’s about the teamwork of coworkers focused on keeping the line moving.

As Diamond develops those career skills, she’s saving up to help pay for college – dedicating her paychecks to building a future career.

“For a first job, it’s more than I expected,” she said. “It’s preparing me for the future – adulthood, bills, all of that. It’s a good thing.”

Brianna Cornelius

“I learned how to speak to customers, how to interact … how to help them,” said Brianna, 18, a graduate of Summerset Prep in North Lauderdale.

Brianna’s Job: Old Navy sales associate

As an Old Navy sales associate, Brianna loves to go “scavenger hunting around” the store – checking on prices, readying dressing rooms – to help customers find just the right thing to wear.

She expects the communication skills she is building now through one-on-one interactions with customers to help in her future career as a social worker.

“This job is helping me get used to the job environment – how to work and how to behave,” she said. “This job is preparing me for bigger things.”

Youth Work Results

  • Nearly 1,000 youth participants since 2016
  • 100 percent hired for jobs or internships
“They get these kids ready for these positions. They are professional. They show up on time. They work hard,” said Sandra Juliachs, Bank of America market manager for Broward County.

This Youth Work program was made possible by support from the following Funds of the Community Foundation of Broward:

Harold D. Franks Fund

The Wil and Susan Greaton Fund

Allan Wolpowitz Fund

Frederick W. Jaqua Fund

Harold Rosenberg Fund for Children’s Education

Deinhardt Charitable Fund

Mary N. Porter Community Impact Fund

Kiwanis Club of Fort Lauderdale Charitable Fund

Contact Information

To learn how you can support Youth Work, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at nthies@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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