Empowering Ventura County Youth: Workforce Development Board Launches Revitalized Youth Program

Ventura County NextGen, The Workforce Development Board of Ventura County’s new youth-focused program, is helping local youth and young adults overcome barriers to employment and embark on successful careers.

The most recently available numbers show that only 88.1% of Ventura County high school seniors graduated in 2022; while this is slightly higher than California’s average graduation rate, it still leaves nearly 12% of Ventura County youth exiting school without their high school diploma. Those with lower household incomes have significantly lower graduation rates than those with higher incomes. This demographic already deals with the difficulties of entering the workforce at a young age. However, their participation in the workforce is down nearly 3% nationally when comparing February 2024 to February 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Recognizing this critical need in Ventura County, the Workforce Development Board of Ventura County (WDBVC) is seeking to pave the way for youth and young adults as they mitigate their unemployment or lack of career pathways; WDBVC has unveiled “Ventura County NextGen,” a revitalized youth program aimed at preparing Ventura County’s future workforce with essential skills and readiness.

Ventura County NextGen is a no-cost education and career development program specifically created for youth and young adults ages 14-24. Developed with input from local youth and young adults, the program offers a unique and relatable approach to career exploration and growth while helping them overcome employment barriers. Their supportive services include:

GED completion or assistance in obtaining a High School diploma

One-on-one career coaching and mentorship, with personalized guidance to help participants identify their strengths and set career goals

Resume writing and editing

Interview coaching, job search advice, and overall preparation for the hiring process

Internship and apprenticeship opportunities in relevant work fields

Credential or degree attainment

and so much more!

Goodwill Industries of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties is the current contracted service provider for the WDBVC’s youth program, which goes beyond employment assistance. Alongside aiding in employment-specific areas, Goodwill also provides vital support for youth navigating unstable living situations, housing insecurity, teenage pregnancy, justice-involved pasts, language barriers, and transportation challenges. These comprehensive services are expertly managed through Goodwill, ensuring holistic support for all participants.

“We understand the challenges youth and young adults face in today’s job market, especially those experiencing barriers to employment,” said Andrea Sanchez, Senior Manager, Workforce Development Board of Ventura County. “Ventura County NextGen extends beyond conventional job training. This wrap-around system prioritizes personalized coaching, assists participants in overcoming barriers to education and employment, and facilitates connections with opportunities that align closely with their aspirations.”

This critical program is available to all local youth and young adults ages 14-24 and functions in conjunction with Ventura County WORKS, a similar program for adults – especially those with disabilities, justice-involved pasts, or housing insecurity. WDBVC hopes that its commitment and dedication to combatting employment barriers through various supportive services and programs will help the most in-need in Ventura County in this post-pandemic economy.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this incredible no-cost program, visit VCNextGen.org or call 805-648-WORK to learn more and get started today.

Additionally, if you are a business in Ventura County seeking an eager employee, apprentice, or intern, you can reach out to WDBVC at https://workforceventuracounty.org/employers/business-solutions/, and they will help connect you with a worker who fits your business needs. Along with easily accessible help from real-life people, a multitude of resources are at your disposal, including a virtual hiring board that will help you find your next great employee.

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