Entrepreneurship, 'Thrive and Survive' hope to bridge gaps

NORTH BAY – The Small Business Development Center of Northern California has launched several programs for young people, including programs aimed at teaching about entrepreneurial careers, survival in the workplace and generational diversity.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Program is diverse in outreach and delivery methods. Web sites, blogs, social networking sites, virtual reality games, engaging youth-oriented trainers and business simulation products will be used to teach business management, finance, marketing, sales and e-commerce skills.

“I think it is terrific that the SBDC does youth outreach programs,” said Rebecca Gallagher of the Sonoma County Office of Education, which will help direct students to the program. “That the SBDC is willing to put their manpower toward this is really terrific.”

According to the SBDC, the ultimate desired outcome for the entrepreneurial program is to have young people more interested in self-employment as a career option. Through the program’s projects, students will also garner transferable business skills for both self-employment and the job market, see relevance of education and choose to stay in school or pursue higher education, and develop life-management and problem-solving skills.

In addition to YEP, the SBDC has put together another program: Thrive and Survive in the Workplace. It is a one day-workshop that was developed based upon feedback from employers. Many employer surveys done by the SBDC indicated a skill gap in the areas of work ethic, showing up to work on time, performing assigned responsibilities, attitude and appropriate workplace appearance. Although these are considered soft skills, the SBDC contends they are viewed as a critical need by employers in order to have a skilled work force and to minimize the barriers to filling job vacancies. The curriculum focuses on what qualities employers desire in their employees and what it takes to thrive and survive in the workplace.

Ken Lippi, the director of the Marin County School to Career Partnership, said the agency has worked with the SBDC on a number of workshops for students.

“During this summer’s internship program, the SBDC brought a series of industry leaders to do mock interviews,” he said. “It was so valuable to the students.

"They really have done a great job for us and have been an amazing resource for us."

The Thrive and Survive program is presented in hands-on activities to help students understand and practice concepts that highlight key skills employers desire including work ethic, appropriate workplace appearance and attitude.

The generational diversity program helps employees to bridge the gap between generations.

“Teens could be in the workplace with four generations of people,” said Ms. Gallagher. “This will help them bridge those gaps."

For information about the SBDC’s youth programs, visit www.sbdcsantarosa.org.