There is a program in Baltimore serving young adults, whose graduates currently boast a 98 percent success rate when it comes to employment and/or enrollment in postsecondary education. Their students average at least a $17.00 per-hour wage once they have completed the program as compared to the $9.25 local minimum wage. The program also provides their enrollees with the opportunity to earn college credits.
It’s the Year Up Professional Training Corps (PTC). Launched in Baltimore in 2010 on the campus of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), Year Up’s PTC offers an intensive, one-year program for college students, ages 18-24. Year Up Baltimore is located on the third floor of BCCC located at 2600 Liberty Heights Avenue. The program combines professional coaching, and hands-on skill development.
In addition to the services offered by Year Up, as college students, program participants also have access to the library, tutoring resources, and other services offered by BCCC.
“Our mission is to close the opportunity divide by providing support to young adults with a high school diploma or GED who are unemployed, underemployed, or not in school,” said Roland R. Selby, executive director of the Year Up Baltimore program. “We want to help them change their narrative. Year Up helps to place them in entry level jobs that the larger companies are having trouble filling.”
Year Up also offers internships. Internship partners include CareFirst, Allegis Group, Johns Hopkins University, Exxon, Georgetown University, and Symantec. According to Year Up, 40 percent of their students go from internships to being hired, and they have a 92 percent partner satisfaction rate.
“Some young adults are hired for their skill, but fired for behavior,” said Selby. “A lot of that has to do with showing up on time and doing the work they were hired to do. Year Up teaches young adults how to navigate the corporate culture and how to adapt. There is, a way to conduct yourself in a work environment. Young adults assume they know how to work in a corporate environment. But, how do they know if they have never worked for a corporation? Year Up is taking that gray area away.”
Year Up is built around six core values: Respect and value others; Build trust, be honest; Be accountable; Engage and embrace diversity; Strive to learn; and Work hard and have fun. The program includes six months professional training in IT, Financial Operations, Sales & Customer Support, Business Operations, or Software Development; a six-month corporate internship; up to 25 college credits; a weekly educational stipend throughout the program, and guidance and support from a staff advisor and professional mentor.
“The students work off a contract,” said Selby. “They have to come dressed professionally, they can’t be late, and they have to live the six core values. We help them to understand this is how you show up to work every day. A typical day starts before 8:30 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., they are late. Failure to comply earns an infraction and there is a monetary penalty. They lose money from their stipend. We are trying to reinforce the right behaviors. Punctuality is a lifetime habit, and tardiness is a top complaint from employers.”
He added, “And that’s understanding transportation problems. But that’s not an excuse for being late. Plan for it. Get on the bus stop early until you can purchase a car. You have to work for what you earn. It won’t be given to you.”
According to Selby, Year Up has served more than 700 students.
“We teach our students what it means to be a team member and pulling their weight,” he said. “They learn about the importance of being coachable and taking notes. These are soft skills not tied into certain courses of training, but they are very helpful.”
He added, “Year Up provides an extra layer of support to young adults who are interested and want to do more. They want to make a livable wage, but may need additional coaching and development. That’s where we come in. Year Up trains, mentors them, and opens doors to relationships."
Classes begin in January and August. Applications are considered on a rolling basis until the class is filled. Space is limited. For more information call 410-919-9530 or visit: www.yearup.org.