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Connect, Create, Collaborate: Teens, Work Skills, Opportunities and Outcomes

I've written in the past on the YALSAblog about the programs we provide in my library that help teens to grow up successfully. The recently published Kids Count data book re-affirmed for me the importance of what we are doing at my library and the positive impact our work has on teens.

The Kids Count data points to some opportunities for libraries to help teens succeed. For example, data shows there is lack of job skills for those aged 16-24. This makes me think that one thing the library can do is to provide robust opportunities, such as a strong volunteer program, so that teens can gain and sharpen these skills.

What can you do in a volunteer program to help teens gain the necessary skills?

You will definitely want to evaluate whether or not teens gained job skills as a part of your volunteer program. There are a variety of tools you can use to help in this. The U.S. Government's Howto.gov site is a great resource in getting started with survey questions to help learn about change over time.

Don't be afraid to connect with teens to help them prepare for their future work lives. You can do it by thinking through the goals of what you are doing and how you can look at what happens in your program that leads to success. When you survey teens you might find at first that things didn't work out as you planned. That's OK, analyze your outcomes, think of them as opportunities, and then try try again. That's a work skill for all library staff and one we can demonstrate to teens too.