Newswise — ESSEX, NY – Corporations concerned with cultivating and recruiting the workforce of tomorrow due to the dramatic effects of COVID-19 on America’s youth are turning to CFES Brilliant Pathways for answers.

The global non-profit that has helped over 100,000 students become college and career ready launched a series of College and Career Readiness Advisor (CCR) Trainings on March 23 to address the crisis. Employees from major corporations and smaller businesses left the training prepared to mentor students in their own communities, and in turn, meet their new diversity, inclusion and community outreach goals. 

“Recognizing that COVID-19 is a once-in-a-century occurrence, there is a level of intentionality that we need to bring to the solutions, and CFES is doing that through these trainings,” said Dean Garfield, Vice President at Netflix, during the live opening session. “It will ensure that the current pipeline of talent isn’t lost forever by making it accessible to students who are just on the margins of deciding which direction to go.”

Since COVID-19 hit, enrollment for low-income high school graduates dropped 29 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2020, compared with a 17 percent decline for students from more affluent families. CFES President Rick Dalton addressed the widening opportunity gap in a recent op-ed in the Hechinger Report.  

“Future legions of young people are slipping away,” writes Dalton. “Not only did the pandemic interrupt their academic careers at a critical time, students also lost in-person guidance and support from counselors, teachers and coaches. But there is work that can be done.”

Dalton’s solution is the creation of CCR advisor trainings for corporations, as well separate trainings for coaches, teachers, parents and community members.Customized programs have also been designed to meet the specific needs of individual corporations, and include ongoing support and school partnerships.

CFES has been part of the pipeline solution since 1991, having created corporate programs for the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, GE, Southwest Airlines and TransPerfect. CFES designed Ernst & Young’s College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) program, which has helped 2,000 youth in 38 cities attain degrees, and recently partnered with Colgate Palmolive employees to share their college and career pathways with 1800 CFES students.  

Garfield opened the March training by sharing his own college and career pathway after immigrating to the U.S. in high school, and how Netflix is dealing with hiring new talent amidst the pandemic. “There was nothing different or special about me growing up than any other kid in towns where CFES works,” he said. “All of the students that CCR advisors will work with have the potential to do all of the things I’ve done and more. That’s the work – that we continue to create pathways for those students.” 

Subsequent CCR sessions focused on how today’s students and the higher education landscape have changed, and what this means in how we support them; the growing importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace; how the Essential Skills build workforce readiness among students; and the role of mentoring in building college and career readiness.

“It made me take a look back at my own college experience, wishing I had this sort of positive influence and emphasis on mental health,” said one corporate training attendee. “The training and its overall perspective will make me and anyone who takes it a better mentor, parent, employee and friend.”

Greg Muccio, Director of Talent Acquisition at Southwest Airlines, led the live closing session by emphasizing the importance of exposing students to potential careers. 

“Why can’t the kid in an underserved area aspire to be a commercial pilot or another well-paying job? If they aren’t exposed to these types of opportunities, how are they supposed to dream about them? It’s the obligation of all of us, including CCR advisors, to show them the possibilities and support them on their journey.”

The next CCR corporate-focused CCR training is scheduled for May 23-30 and be attended by registering here.