As young adults enter the workforce, many are not adequately prepared to succeed in professional work environments. Research shows that over 70% of employers recognize the vital importance of soft skills such as communication, listening, critical thinking and interpersonal skills, yet high school students are graduating without the opportunity to gain these skills.
In a newly announced collaboration, organizations within Collier County are preparing to fill this “skill gap” among local youth. The Taste the Impact youth entrepreneurship program is being adopted by Grace Place for Children & Families, Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, and the Greater Naples Chamber, providing program participants with the opportunity to complete the Taste the Impact Career Readiness & Soft Skills Development Program.
What sets the Taste the Impact Program apart from other career-based education programs is its focus on not only classroom learning, but also the ability to apply that knowledge through hands-on business experience. The one-year program utilizes the curriculum that has shaped the success of Taste of Immokalee, a student-created and operated social business, and includes three key learning components:
- Learn: New students will learn from instructors and business mentors, as well as from other high school students who have previously served as interns with Taste of Immokalee. Through the virtual, interactive sharing of case studies, videos, and best practice examples, participants will understand how to apply lessons to real-world business scenarios and will become better communicators, team collaborators and proactive problem solvers.
- Certify: After successfully completing the program, students can take the Florida Ready to Work assessment to earn statewide-recognized credentials that show potential employers they have the necessary skills needed to enter today’s workforce.
- Internship: Graduating students may apply for paid internship positions, where they will put their newfound knowledge and skills to work in real-world business environments. In addition to internship positions within Taste of Immokalee, the Greater Naples Chamber will partner with local companies to offer internships throughout Collier County.
“We could not be more excited about this collaboration,” said Marie Capita, Executive Director of Taste the Impact. “Our partnership with Grace Place, Boys & Girls Club, and the Greater Naples Chamber will benefit so many more young lives and increase the number of local high school students that possess fundamental employability skills. Local employers will also benefit tremendously, with an amazing talent pool of hard-working and career-ready young adults with both the technical and soft skills needed to succeed.”
Local companies wishing to join this collaborative effort and provide internship opportunities for deserving high school students are encouraged to contact Alex Breault at the Greater Naples Chamber at 239-403-2912.