Governor Baker, Secretary Walker Highlight Achievements of Signal Success Program in Malden
BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II visited Malden High School today to highlight the achievements of students who participated in Signal Success, a voluntary career-readiness program originally piloted in a handful of urban high schools that is now being adopted by schools around the state.
The program teaches high school students “soft skills” such as dependability, collaboration, initiative and communication to help young people be successful in a work environment. Research suggests mastering these soft skills at a young age predicts future career and life success.
Governor Baker and Secretary Walker got a chance to see the Signal Success curriculum in action at Malden High School. The curriculum aligns with the priorities of the Workforce Skills Cabinet, which aim to foster a workforce that is career-ready.
“Teen employment is much more than a way to earn pocket money. It is an important predictor of future employment and earnings,” Governor Baker said. “Signal Success focuses on skills that position young people for success – in school, college and employment, both now and in the future.”
“Since taking office last year, the Baker-Polito administration has made workforce development a top priority,” Secretary Walker said. “When the three cabinet secretaries who make up the Workforce Skills Cabinet go out and talk to employers they tell us that young people are ill-prepared for a work environment. With Signal Success we can help young people learn the soft-skills they need to be productive and valued members of a team.”
The program was first launched in the 2014-2015 school year at two high schools – Lowell, Malden, as well as the community-based organization Sociedad Latina. The two high schools had 25 students participate. During the 2015-2016 school year 10 schools and 1,600 students participated.
Malden High School expanded the program from 25 kids to teach 300 this year because school officials found the curriculum so beneficial to students’ success. Chelsea High School implemented the program this year, training 50 teachers on the curriculum so every junior and senior could participate. More than 700 students in Chelsea participated in the program.
“The Signal Success curriculum is a great example of collaboration between educators and workforce development partners to improve college and career readiness. The skills students learn through this curriculum can help them be more successful in their education, in their work, and in their life,” Secretary Peyser said. “It’s great to see more schools incorporating this type of skill-building into their programs.”
Signal Success was created, and is administered by Commonwealth Corporation, the quasi-state agency under the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Commonwealth Corporation is working to expand the program to high schools around the state during the 2016-2017 school year.
The program is customized for each school that offers it, and funded through a combination of state funds and private foundation money raised by Commonwealth Corporation to pay teachers’ stipends who volunteer to teach after school.
Young people who get state-sponsored summer jobs through YouthWorks must also complete the Signal Success curriculum.
In Massachusetts and nationally, teen employment rates have plummeted from 54% in 1999 to 29% in 2015.
In April 2013, Commonwealth Corporation released a report that examined the perceptions of businesses with large numbers of entry-level jobs about teens in the workplace. The report found that businesses were most concerned with teens’ work readiness skills, particularly dependability, initiative, collaboration and communication. Businesses also reported that teens were not well coached about how to look for work. Teens inadvertently send signals to employers during the process that hurt their hiring prospects, according to the report.
Researchers have found that teen employment rates rise steadily with family incomes, and that there are long-term gains in employment, earnings and educational outcomes for teens who work.