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Transforming Youth Career Development through Digital Tools

At Youth Solutions, we are passionate about providing young people with the tools and resources they need to succeed in education, employment, and in life. In today's digital world, we continuously seek innovative ways to enhance our programming and services, which is why we are proud to offer Youth Solutions Digital Supports. Our digital tools, TalkingPoints and Pathful Explore, are instrumental in supporting our premier program, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), and enable us to collect meaningful data that supports youth in purposeful career exploration.

Providing effective career development support to students can be challenging. Many schools recognize the importance of collecting data for effective career exploration, but the critical metrics of a student's personal strengths, interests, and overall happiness, are not always considered or tracked. By taking a more focused approach to data collection, schools can better equip their students with the support they need to achieve their career goals. This is where JMG comes in.

JMG works with partner organizations and schools to help young people gain skills and find their path to education and employment success. Two major components of the JMG program are the delivery of competencies for career development and consistent communication, including at least 12 months of follow-up, with participants to continue supporting them after graduation. JMG's data collection includes crucial outcomes such as graduation rate, employment rate, and postsecondary education/credential attainment. It also collects interim data such as career interests, connectivity with follow-up, GPA, and proven skills and knowledge. By collecting relevant data, JMG can provide targeted and personalized support to youth, bridging the gap in effective career development.

Recently, we had the privilege of presenting at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference, one of the Midwest's largest educational technology conferences. During our presentation about Digital Career Development, delivered by team members Alexandra Packer and Donna Rummel, we showcased how our digital tools are facilitating program implementation, data collection, and analysis for continuous improvement of our career development services.

As Packer aptly put it, “When we get the individualized view of each youth participant’s needs, we’re able to then make changes and decisions for that specific youth and help them be successful after high school.”

TalkingPoints, a non-profit organization that provides a two-way youth communication platform, is one of our key digital tools. Our JMG specialists, those who teach our youth programs, use it to connect with their youth in a safe and efficient way. With TalkingPoints' unique polling feature, our specialists can assess the level of engagement from their youth, allowing for efficient follow-up and personalized support.

Carolyn Miller, JMG specialist from Pershing High School said, "I love using TalkingPoints because it provides a direct line of communication with students who are very comfortable with texting. I can fine tune it to send a text to one student, a few students, or all my students, and it saves me both time and energy."

Another JMG specialist, Kim Benz from Cadillac Innovation and Cadillac High Schools, commented, “As with most of our follow-up students, the preferred mode of communication is via text. Using TalkingPoints has allowed me to set up groups for students in college and students working, allowing me to tailor my message to each group.” This level of engagement and connectivity leads to more purposeful grouping, meaningful conversations, and goal setting, leading to a successful life after graduation.

At the recent MACUL conference, we shared a booth with TalkingPoints which enabled us to showcase our collaborative efforts and demonstrate how our digital tools are positively impacting career development for youth. Through our close collaboration, we have been able to provide feedback and suggestions that have enhanced their platform, making it more effective for youth. We are proud to work with TalkingPoints, our valued partner in digital youth engagement.

Pathful Explore, formally known as Virtual Job Shadow, is another tool that has transformed the way we approach career development. This tool includes interest, ability and aptitude assessments, career and life skills videos within each career cluster, and a resume and cover letter builder which allow our youth to explore their interests and skills in a purposeful and robust way. Pathful Explore is a supplemental tool that has enabled our youth to make informed decisions about their future careers. It has also helped our specialists by adding another layer of support for the youth they interact with on a regular basis.

At Youth Solutions, we invite organizations and schools that share our passion for providing youth career development opportunities to partner with us. By partnering with us, you will receive access to our robust programming and cutting-edge digital tools, including TalkingPoints and Pathful Explore, at no cost to you. With these tools, you can help young people in your community explore their interests, develop their skills, and make informed decisions about their future careers. Contact us today to learn more about how you can partner with Youth Solutions.


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