Service years are a form of workforce development and a talent pipeline well-suited to young adults that combines work-based learning and career development with a motivating social purpose.
Evidence shows that regardless of background, a young person in full-time service learns workplace behaviors and skills, experiences a specific field, makes connections, and develops the pride that comes with a paycheck. Research demonstrates that the sense of purpose and direction developed through these experiences can inspire a young adult to pursue further education or advance on a career path, leading to future economic success, often in public service fields that are experiencing talent shortages.
The development of “soft skills” like communications, collaboration, creativity, and cultural competency — skills that are not easily taught or learned — is becoming increasingly more important for America’s workforce to remain competitive in today’s economy. Employees who possess these soft skills are more sought after by employers. Service year programs enable service year corps members to develop these essential soft skills that are valued by employers and critical across job sectors, but are not taught in the classroom and are increasingly difficult to find.
Service years can also provide a ‘road to liberation,’ offering a pathway out of circumstances that can perpetuate inequality, marginalization, and discrimination. In the work we do to support, strengthen, and scale the service year field, we've prioritized improving access and equitable outcomes for service year corps members and the communities they serve.
We understand that most service year programs are working locally to address the needs of communities, and that many service year programs could benefit from increasing their knowledge of ways to align their missions with local priorities. Through our equity work, Service Year Alliance can help service year programs more effectively connect to the needs of communities they serve and leverage service years as a strategy to build bridges across societal divides.
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