Jobs for America’s Graduates – Ensuring the Success of Our Future Workforce



Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) held its annual thought leaders’ event in Washington, D.C., on September 30, and SHRM was one of the many sponsors who support the good work that the organization does to help at-risk youth finish high school and find productive careers.

Led by JAG president Ken Smith and Chairman of the JAG Board of Directors Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, the event featured several panels of business leaders from around the country. JAG program representatives from organizations such as the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, McKinsey and United Way shared information about the programs their organizations have initiated to help kids obtain the skills and education they need to find productive employment after graduation.

Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the SHRM affiliate Council for Global Immigration, represented SHRM at the event. During her opening remarks, she said that “SHRM is proud to partner with Jobs for America’s Graduates to ensure our nation’s youth get the opportunities they need to succeed as workers and leaders, and is exploring ways to advocate and promote work-based trainings for youth, including through the new Global Apprenticeships Network.”

During the event, JAG board members from around the country participated in roundtable focus groups to share the work they are doing in their respective states and to propose new solutions that would expand their presence and positive outreach. 

Panel participant Bill Hansen, CEO of USA Funds, said, “We’re working to get new business partners to move the needle to help students succeed.” And while education and skills development are major factors in the success of youth, JAG members are also looking at what types of skills employers are seeking.  Chauncey Lennon of the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation said, “We’re focusing on the demand side of the skills youth gap problem … we’re looking at how to invest in training for the skills that employers actually need.”

The challenge now is to expand the program throughout the states, and HR professionals can help.  Across the country, SHRM members are helping at-risk young people get on a solid pathway to employment. “JAG really appreciates the continued partnership with SHRM,” said JAG board member and past SHRM Board Chair Janet Parker. “We are hopeful that we can connect SHRM members with the JAG schools. The students would so benefit from the guidance that the HR professionals could provide. There could also be opportunities for the senior members to participate on the JAG boards.”

The HR profession has a lot to offer—and also much to gain—when it comes to solving the youth unemployment challenge.  

For more information on how you or your SHRM chapter can get involved in the amazing work that JAG is doing to prepare our future workforce for success, visit Jobs for America’s Graduates at

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