“Community service and youth leadership are core aspects of the YouthBuild model.” -2017 YouthBuild Funding Opportunity Announcement Youth leadership is a key component of the YouthBuild model for very good reason.

Youth leadership is a key component of the YouthBuild model for very good reason. "Young people," says Campaign for Youth, "have immense assets: they are resilient in the face of enormous challenges, navigate complex interpersonal and economic relationships, and find ways to contribute to their families and communities even when resources are limited." The Campaign,convened bythe Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP),recommends that leadership development opportunities be a part of "all reconnection strategies," and encourages youth development organizations to "build [leadership development opportunities] into program delivery."(Campaign for Youth, Our Youth, Our Economy, Our Future: A Road Map for A Stronger Talent Pipeline, November 2016, http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/publication-1/Campaign-for-Youth-Road-Map-2016.pdf).

As YouthBuild programs work to integrate leadership development into their overall program delivery, integration into the education component often happens seamlessly. Case managers and counselors find themselves incorporating leadership opportunities into their daily work. However, vocational training staff, especially construction staff, often are left with little guidance on the integration of leadership into day-to-day interactions with students, or even worse, aren’t supported to incorporate leadership development at all.

As part of the YouthBuild team, construction staff are also charged with deepening the understanding and adoption of positive leadership development practices that support the development of students and graduate leaders. Doing so better prepares young people to successfully transition into and through post-secondary education and training. Young people engaged in leadership development in the YouthBuild program are also better prepared to identify and pursue their career paths of choice, and are more likely to engage in ongoing positive self-development, and proactive interactions with their families and communities.

Through the construction component, staff can assist young people in their leadership development by having them:

  • identify key leadership roles across the entire construction process;
  • rotate leadership roles as they are being trained on the construction work site. Examples include crew chief; safety coordinator; site steward responsible for calling for breaks, managing cleanup, and tracking attendance; making supply runs; photographer who documents construction work phases; and the tool captain who signs out tools and conducts inventory;
  • go to contract negotiations or City Hall to gather necessary permits;
  • help plan, estimate materials, and schedule the work;
  • help solve particular problems such as meeting a deadline, keeping the site cleaner, improving attendance, or improving teamwork;
  • give tours to visitors to the site;
  • learn about the “why” of green building and become champions on environmental issues; and
  • provide feedback on the construction staff and each other.

Good leadership in YouthBuild is demonstrated when young people take responsibility for ensuring a positive impact for themselves, their family, their program, their community, and the planet. As you work towards your DOL YouthBuild performance outcomes, you will also be impacting participant success. This success will cut across multiple aspects of your youths’ lives: post-secondary education, long-term career success, emotional and physical health, and financial literacy, to name a few. Leadership skills help our youth participant to help themselves. The skills gained develop persistence and resilience -- key tools that are ultimately what young people will fall back on when faced with life’s challenges. Leadership gives them the ability to feel empowered to show up every day and do their best.  Through the construction component, construction staff can reinforce leadership development, supporting young people in honing these skills through application while working as a team to bring a set of blueprints to life.

Related Resources on the Community of Practice

Leadership Development, Workplace and Postsecondary Readiness Competencies

Graduate Engagement at YouthBuild

Working Hands Working Minds Curriculum: Unit 1 - Teamwork and Leadership in Construction

Click here to access the webinar recording of Building Leaders for the Building Trades.  This archived webinar introduces DOL YouthBuild grantees to standard YouthBuild Leadership Development competencies and discusses how to integrate leadership development into work site activities and construction career development.