The job market is ever-changing, and the requirements for a quality job aren’t what they used to be.
Nowadays, for most positions that aren’t entry-level, employers want applicants with a college degree. But a lot of people, for one reason or another, haven’t had the opportunity to complete their education.
For them, advancing the ranks is even more challenging. And that’s where nonprofit organization Generation is looking to help.
The international organization, which expanded into Jacksonville around a year ago, offers free training programs to help people who are looking to get ahead, but haven’t had the opportunity to learn the skills needed to do so.
The organization runs two training programs in Jax: one centered around development of IT skills, and the other focusing on retail career advancement. The retail program, which launched last August, is aided by a $4.8 million grant from Walmart.
So far, they’ve formed local partnerships with Florida Blue and Firehouse Subs, among others, to train employees or prospective employees. A partnership with Fresh Ministries provides them with classroom and office space just off A. Philip Randolph Blvd., and partnerships with FSCJ and Edward Waters College also provide classroom space and outreach opportunities.
Through Generation’s programs, students learn skills such as professionalism, eye contact, self-presentation, and many more. Classroom exercises are interactive and encourage teamwork. Each student is also assigned a mentor who connects with them each week and acts as somewhat of a life coach, talking through personal issues and allowing the students to focus on learning when they’re in class.
So far, in just one year, Generation’s two programs in Jacksonville have produced 442 graduates. 56% of those graduates were African-American, and 53% were single parents. Many are women who gave birth at a young age and had to prioritize raising their child over continuing their education – until now.
Dr. Latisha Reeves, one of the Jax chapter’s four instructors, knows what it’s like for these women.
“[Teaching here] is a passion for me because I was a parent at age 14,” says Dr. Reeves.
“It was a challenge, with all the things that were going on in my life,” adds Reeves, who grew up in a low-income environment riddled with domestic violence.
When Dr. Reeves was fighting that fight, organizations like Generation weren’t around. Undeterred, she pushed forward, gaining a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and eventually a Doctorate of Ministry degree. But it wasn’t an easy path.
“I took the scenic route,” she jokes.
Now, thanks to Dr. Reeves and the rest of Generation’s team, the path to professional success for many in similar situations might finally be a less scenic one.