Presents promising practices from Milwaukee’s Tech Tern Model, a youth/industry partnership that connected 18 male high school students, most of whom were African American from low-income backgrounds, with employer mentorship and real-world learning opportunities in the health care, architecture, engineering, and construction sectors.

 “As the numbers of young adults disconnected from the workforce continue to rise, the out National Fund for Workforce Solution Young Adult Initiatives [such as the program described in this brief] aim to test and implement new strategies….The practices presented here represent some of those burgeoning successes” (p.1).


“The Young Adult Initiatives are:


  • Identifying effective methods in connecting young adults to industry partnerships;
  • Describing the characteristics of effective partnerships between employers and education and training providers; and
  • Cultivating a network of top employers experienced in recruiting young adults and sharing with them the National Fund for Workforce Solution’s] best practices for young adult recruitment.


The…Young Adult Initiatives ultimately seek to develop a deep understanding of how industry partnerships and employers most effectively engage young adults, and share this information so that employers and workforce development collaboratives across the country can access the potential of and invest in the millions of young adults across the nation” (p.1).


This brief provides an overview of Milwaukee’s Tech Tern Model, a “multidisciplinary career exploration program that provides urban youth workforce readiness, academic skills, hands-on training, and career exploration across multiple disciplines including health care, architecture, engineering, and construction....It was expected to:


  • Help create a pipeline of ready talent for future employment in the region
  • Demonstrate the kinds of careers available ’in industry’
  • Provide real-world experiences of jobs
  • Eliminate stereotypes of both jobs and industries” (p.2).


“The mentorship project [at Bradley Tech high school in Milwaukee] lasted two and a half years and included 11 day-long onsite sessions. There were 18 male students, most of whom were African American of low income, urban backgrounds. Throughout, the students had opportunities to learn how and why things are constructed, how academic education enables that and what, exactly, professionals do in their jobs. They also received mentoring from the partners on a two-to-one basis, so that at any given time outside the classroom, two partner organizations were mentoring a youth” (p.3).


(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)


Full Publication Title: Promising Practices in Young Adult Employment: Hands-On Multidisciplinary Career Exploration and Mentorships

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Four commonalities make Milwaukee’s Tech Tern (technical internship) approach to youth-focused career awareness and employment replicable: 1. Workforce development aligned with economic development 2. Industry partnerships engaged in on-the-job training, internships, and apprenticeships 3. Enhanced teaching methods based on new requisite skills and employer demands 4. Industry partnerships and education and training providers working together to engage students in a talent pipeline (with multiple talent options)…. The driving principle of this initiative was that it be industry led, provide real-world learning experiences, have active mentorships, and take place within the local community” (p.2). “It turns out that, in this case, learning went two ways. The professionals found the students intelligent, creative and enjoyable, and learned that their original preconceptions of the kids were misguided as the students demonstrated hard work, focus, and dedication. The students thrived on the ‘doing’ part of the program and wanted to know more with every visit. And the students realized what real world jobs were like and how academics play a big part in job success, even if you aren’t sitting in an office…. These tips should help other programs of this kind from reinventing the wheel: • When working with young adults, remember that the learning context needs to include hands-on, experiential lessons that tie back to academic work. • When designing the program, ensure that the partners each fulfill a specific role and make sure each partner knows what that role is. • If the partnership starts from employer demands, it will be more successful than if academia or community-based organizations put together a program and then try to get employers to participate” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author)