Recently, KRA President & CEO, Knowlton R. Atterbeary, and KRA staffers Krista Roberson, Operations Manager, and Patricia Davis, Waccamaw Region (SC) Youth Program Team Lead, attended the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals’ (NAWDP) 2011 Youth Development Symposium, of which KRA was a key sponsor. Participants represented the breath of the profession including: One-Stop Career Center staff, Youth Build grantees, community college representatives, career/guidance counselors, juvenile justice specialists, educators and other youth practitioners. This year’s theme, “Improving Outcomes: Changing Lives”, attracted more than 400 workforce development professionals seeking new and innovative ideas and information, as well as professional development and networking opportunities for improving program outcomes for youth program participants.
Mr. Atterbeary stated, “Workforce development programs are experiencing a funding pinch resulting from budget cuts due to the country’s current economic state. This NAWDP conference is a prime opportunity for program professionals and stakeholders to network and learn about innovative programming that supports what I call the new normal workforce delivery environment, one that we’ll continue to experience for some years to come. We are glad to be able to support an event that informs KRA staff and the industry as a whole, even in an environment of reduced funding. We think this is important.”
The 3-day Symposium offered dozens of workshops, including LinkedIn Can Be So Much More that addressed using various social media and marketing techniques to connect with youth. Another session, Branding 101, focused on the issue of what young people think of your organization vs. what you want them to think; therefore a program should take steps to ensure that its “brand” sends a positive message that youth will find attractive and inviting. Other workshops included Reconnecting Today’s Youth to Meet Tomorrow’s Economic Needs, Valuing the Voices of Youth, and Why Testing Matters, to name a few.
Ms. Roberson concluded, “There are numerous workshops to choose from, but I find those that provide panel and peer group discussions to be the most beneficial. I want to learn about components that are working for other programs, and how they may be incorporated in KRA’s youth programs to result in better practices, great outcomes, and program growth. One in particular, Making Youth Programs More Successful, really resonated with me. It focused on creating youth workforce programs that can sustain funding upheavals, meaning that you have to strategically develop your program so that it entices youth to participate, addresses the needs of local employers, and meets the requirements of your clients. And, that is what KRA is all about.”