Forward Together

Seattle Southside Chamber Seeks to Expand Workforce Discovery Lab

The Workforce Discovery Lab is an existing program founded in 2019 and supported by the Seattle Southside Chamber and Success Foundation. Their proposal is to expand the scope and capacity of the program. It is a career preparation and exploration program for local opportunity youth focused on supporting Port related industries. The program is designed for students in high school to develop a variety of skills that will improve their ability to succeed in a professional setting. Students explore local internship and career opportunities including entrepreneurial pathways.

The program for 2022 will build on the success from the past three years and will combine technical skills-based learning with career exploration and personal development, all while connecting local youth to other internship and job opportunities. A few key aspects of the program that will help ensure economic recovery:

  • Hyper-local data is collected from local industry businesses and partners in Port-related industries to assess and forecast current and future workforce demands. Using that data, the program creates “window into work” projects designed to showcase the specific industry sectors where the greatest demand and opportunity exist.
  • Many young people enter pre-apprenticeship programs but the majority never complete the program. By better preparing young people with a solid understanding of expectations, as well as providing wrap-around support structures, greater success is ensured, creating a more predictable and consistent workforce. Connections the youth make with guest speakers will be mutually beneficial as the students are able to grow their professional network and their support structure.
  • Youth mentorship. Two of the students who completed the program in 2019 came back in a leadership capacity in 2020. Creating an opportunity for young people to build their leadership skills helps them build confidence in an atmosphere where they can still gain feedback and learn without any negative repercussions. Many employers are looking for more of these “soft-skills”: punctuality, creativity, drive, office etiquette, etc. Youth mentors help guide and encourage the practice and refinement of leadership and soft skills so that the students who complete the program can be more successful in a job interview setting as well as on the job.

  • Number business served (targeted): 20
  • Dollars invested (targeted): $250,000
  • People reached: 60

The Chamber is looking for sponsorship and support to scale and support the program.