This Way Ahead Program Goes to Capitol Hill
by Mary Wyatt, Gap Inc. Blogger
With summer only a few months away, some of our stores are busy gearing up for a new group of participants in this year’s This Way Ahead program. It gives teens and young adults the chance to get a first job, gain experience and maybe even change the course of their lives. And this year, we’re excited to be expanding the program to even more cities.
This week, David Ard, Senior Vice President, Global Head of People and Communications at Gap, went to Capitol Hill to share advice with other employers and members of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee. “Programs like This Way Ahead demonstrate that we do not need to choose between what is good for the community and what is good for business. We can have both at the same time, and create sustainable programs that benefit all of us,” said David.
During the hearing we heard a lot. Here are the top five things we shared.
(If you’re super curious, check out David’s full testimony here.)
- A first job can be life-changing. Research shows that not getting a first job as a teenager has a big impact on your long-term earning potential. Being unemployed at a young age can reduce earnings by as much as 20 percent for up to two decades.*
- We hire based on potential, not credentials. Job interviews for This Way Ahead are unique. Hiring managers probe on openness to feedback and work ethic, since those are two factors that contribute to success.
- There is no shortage of support. Each participant has a ‘Big Sib’ who they can ask questions they don’t want to ask their managers, like how their locker works or where to eat lunch. There is also a job coach from our nonprofit partner, who meets with them to provide even more support and advice on issues that may come up at work and at home.
- The real story behind our program: The original inspiration for This Way Ahead back in 2007 when it started, came from recognizing that our company has two important assets: jobs in our stores and experience hiring teenagers (lots of experience!). In our company’s nearly fifty-year history, we estimate that we’ve given over one million first jobs to youth.
- This Way Ahead is good for our business too! Data shows this program helps Gap Inc. attract high-caliber talent to our company. And even better, on average, graduates of the program often stay with the company twice as long as their peers.
*Source: The Economist, Youth Unemployment: Generation Jobless, 2013
Meet former This Way Ahead intern now Business Operations Specialist at Old Navy in New York City, Dashawn.
Learn more about This Way Ahead via Fast Co.