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Hennepin County Library Teen Job Fair

Hennepin County Library
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Innovation Summary

Hennepin County Library staff and community partners identified a need to support teens in finding paid work and gaining employment experience. The resulting annual Teen Job Fair is an organized clearing house for community businesses and organizations able to offer these experiences to connect with local teens.

Innovation Leader: Cynthia Matthias, Youth Services Librarian, cmatthias@hclib.org

Problem Statement

One of the untold stories of the economic downturn is its impact on young adults. In 2011, the proportion of young people employed in July – the month that the National Bureau of Labor Statistics captures data for teenagers –was at its lowest percentage since data was first collected in 1948. The job search process is more competitive than ever for these young people; and yet, the need to work is greater, as family incomes are strained. In an effort to secure employment, many teens began turning to the library for help. Recognizing the nature of the job market and the critical need for building employment experience during the teenage years, Library staff explored ways to connect young people with employment opportunities, while also building employer awareness of the value in hiring young workers.

Innovation

In an effort to meet the growing need and demand among young people for employment resources and training, Hennepin County Library partnered with the City of Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, the Minneapolis Workforce Center, Achieve Minneapolis, and the Mall of America to offer the Hennepin County Library Teen Job Fair. This event connects young people with representatives from businesses and organizations offering employment, volunteer, internship and job training opportunities to teens. Representatives provide young people with detailed information about opportunities within their organization, distribute applications, answer questions and share contact information. Educational workshops are also offered to help teens develop job search skills.

Progress

The 2012 Hennepin County Library Teen Job Fair reached more than 1000 young people in the community. Each year, as a result of this event, more young people network with representatives providing job, volunteer, internship and training opportunities; they gain awareness of community agencies that provide ongoing assistance for teens seeking employment; they build job search skills and awareness of the job navigation process; and, they build awareness of library resources and supports for job, college and career exploration.