The Generation Initiative: Preparing Birmingham Talent to Reach Their Dreams

The first round of Generation Initiative training  in Birmingham is full, ahead of courses beginning on February 13. The initiative will help underemployed and unemployed youth gain access to job interviews with local companies, IT certification assistance and career coaching.

Generation is a youth employment program that recruits, trains and places young people in jobs. It is a program of McKinsey Social Initiative, an independent nonprofit that McKinsey & Company founded in 2014.

The program is one of the initiatives of the Innovate Birmingham Regional Workforce Partnership, the broad coalition of public, community, business and education leaders – including the Birmingham Business Alliance – that recently received a $6 million America’s Promise Grant to provide industry-specific skills for 925 Birmingham citizens to obtain high-paying jobs.

Jennifer Sikes, director of communications at McKinsey Social Initiative, said Birmingham was chosen as a vehicle for workforce enhancement through the Generation program because key partnerships already existed.

Computers await installation at the former Depot U space at Innovation Depot for the upcoming first round of Generation training.

Computers await installation at the former Depot U space at Innovation Depot for the upcoming first round of Generation training.

“Birmingham has been an incredibly welcoming city for Generation and we are thrilled to be launching a program here,” Sikes said.  “All the ingredients for success were already here. There is an incredible coalition of partners already involved who are eager to bring new opportunities to the city. And the area has a significant demand for workers in technology—the focus of the first Generation program in Birmingham.”

In just two years of operation, Generation has become the world’s largest and fastest, demand-driven youth employment organization by offering programs spanning four sectors in 15 professions across more than 70 sites in 27 cities in five countries — India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

The program produces 10,000 graduates globally with an 88 percent job placement rate. Graduates typically earn an income two to six times higher than they did before Generation.

Even with statistics showing the overwhelming success of the program, community organizations and leaders in Birmingham are essential to recruit or recommend individuals to the program that have been disconnected from the workforce. Birmingham’s strong community partner coalition and support from across the city will be essential recruiting tools to engage young people that may benefit from the program.

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“We’ve partnered with the Birmingham Education Foundation (BEF) to recruit students into the Generation IT program and to other programs that are a part of the Innovate Birmingham workforce development roadmap,” said Kathleen Hamrick, director of marketing and education at Innovation Depot where the Generation training will be held. “BEF has hired an Innovate Birmingham Program Specialist who is heading student recruitment into the programs.” For the Generation program, Hamrick is the primary contact with the McKinsey Social Initiative Generation IT program for the Birmingham-based program and will help oversee and manage the program’s logistics.

Sikes has witnessed the impact Generation made on previous participants throughout the nation and envisions the same success for Birmingham students. “Our graduates not only find stable employment, increased income and improved well-being, but a career path that can change their life.”

According to Hamrick, 20 students have been accepted into the February class of Generation and recruiting has already begun for the second class, which will begin in May. The third class will begin in September. Recruiting began in early January 2017 and there have been over 100 applicants so far. Classes for the program cap at 20 students.

To enroll in the program, participants aged 17 to 29 must be able to commit to a full-time training schedule for 12 weeks and have a high school diploma or GED with basic reading and math skills. Interested individuals can click here to apply for the next round of training at Innovation Depot.