Catalyst Connection is an economic development organization based in Pittsburgh. It is dedicated to helping small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania improve their competitive performance. Catalyst Connection serves counties with youth unemployment rates ranging between 18-25%. As a participant in the Alcoa Foundation’s Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth, Catalyst Connection will receive $125,000 to provide a customized workforce development program for 60 unemployed young men and women from southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Catalyst Connection program will consist of three components:
1. Workforce Readiness and Counseling:
Catalyst Connection will provide 40 hours of training that will enable participants to acquire critical interpersonal skills needed in a manufacturing setting along with basic competencies to succeed in an internship experience. A portion of this internship preparation will be conducted by the Workforce Investment Boards, leveraging their existing work readiness trainings. The second portion of this training will include soft skills, technical skills, safety training, lean-manufacturing basics, quality control, and skills assessments to assist with proper job fit. A portion of the career planning and placement training activities will take place prior to the start of the internship experience, including resume writing, interviewing skills, networking skills, and how to effectively leverage social media in a job search. The training will be conducted in locations central to the target populations and partnering organizations.
2. Paid Internships:
Once the participants have successfully completed the first program component, they will be matched with local manufacturing companies for 100 hours of job experience. Catalyst Connection will identify the participating companies, assist with drafting internship descriptions where necessary, and match the program participants with companies. The employers will be prepared prior to the start of the program with a list of onboarding requirements. These requirements will include safety training, job shadowing opportunities, tasks with measurable outcomes, exit interviews, and feedback to the project management team.
3. Career Planning and Placement:
Throughout the course of the internship experience, interns will be required to attend a weekly workshop on career planning to increase their likelihood of future employment opportunities. The workshop will include sessions on networking, future training/education opportunities, conducting a job search, and tours of other manufacturing companies. Upon completion of the internship experience, employers with whom the interns were matched will be given the opportunity to extend the internship experience or make an offer of employment to the intern. Additional job seeking assistance will be provided through PA Career Links and Catalyst Connection resources for interns who have not been extended an opportunity for continued employment or those who choose to seek other opportunities. This assistance may include personal coaching, information on local job fairs, online job postings, a resume book that will be shared with other potential employers, and additional skill development avenues that may be pursued.