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Traveling Employment Pathways Blind

According to Gallup CliftonStrengths, “understanding your strengths unlocks your potential and leads you to greater performance.” Unfortunately in Memphis, few resources exist to help people experiencing poverty identify their professional strengths and match those strengths with the living-wage jobs that value them most. As a result, tens of thousands of people are blindly pursuing employment pathways that do not value their unique talents and skills, greatly reducing the chance they will enjoy their work or find a role that allows them to excel.

Not understanding your professional strengths leads to a misalignment between efforts and goals. For the 2021-2022 academic year, more than 80 percent of the industry credentials earned by K-12 students in Memphis do not impact their earning potential. In addition, these credentials are not aligned with the skills desired by employers or the most available jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree.

Only 3 of the Top 10 credentials earned earned by K-12 students in Tennessee were among the Top 10 credentials requested by employers.

Junior Achievement (JA) and The Soulsville Charter School (Soulsville) are two organizations trying to address this roadblock in Memphis. JA exposes youth as early as middle school to career tracks available in the community through its BizTown,
JA Inspire, and Career Speaker programs.

At Soulsville, every rising 10-12th grader is required to complete a Summer Growth Experience, which exposes them to job, internship, and postsecondary opportunities. This type of career exposure provides youth with a better understanding of jobs they might enjoy and be good at, and a broader set of career paths to consider.

Fact vs. Fiction

Traveling Employment Pathways Blind