Our Mission

Empowerment Through Education

Youth Development Professionals

image_downtownThe nature of work has changed, and addressing the widening gap between the skills employers need and the capabilities of new workers is vital to the future.


Youth development professionals across program areas have an opportunity to address the “skills gap” through providing workforce preparation experiences for youth. By learning about the skills young people need, using work-based learning as a model for engaging teens, and utilizing the suggested evaluation strategies, youth development professionals can make many of teens’ experiences  workforce preparation experiences.

The OSU Extensions Workforce Preparation Initiative’s conception of workforce preparation programming is not limited to preparing young people to get a job or to follow a specific career path. The skills critical for success in the 21st century workplace are the same skills needed to be competent and contributing citizens and family members. Youth development programs can intentionally create work-based learning experiences that help youth develop the skills they need to succeed as students, employees, and community members.

Youth Programs As Positive Developmental Settings For Workforce Preparationimage_ac

A variety of studies have shown that youth obtain developmental benefits from consistent participation in well-run quality youth programs. Through such programs, youth are able to learn valuable skills such as teamwork, problem solving, independence, and can connect with adult role models.  These programs also provide youth with the opportunity to take leadership, hold meaningful roles, and carry out responsibilities. Youth development professionals have long referred to these and other similar skills as life skills, but they are also the skills employers value.