Year Up Phoenix offers program to find young adults a career

(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)
(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)
(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)
(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)

There are millions of jobs open in this country and yet there are just as many young people who can't get them. They don't have the training or they just don't know how to behave in the workplace. Year Up is trying to solve that problem with an intensive program that gets them ready for a career.

“You guys are going to be meeting a lot of people,” an instructor said to a circle of about 40 young adults.

Success isn't just about the skills you have or the education earned; it is often about the people you meet.

“Carla, very nice to meet you,” Fields Moseley said to a young woman in the circle. “Tell me about yourself, Carla.”

He joined the students in the Year Up program as they tried to leave a conversation with a business contact. They filled a room at the Maricopa Skills Center in South Phoenix.

“If you are asking someone to stay in touch,” Executive Director Kim Owens told them, “a nice thing to do is to let them know why.”

Networking is just one of the business skills Year Up focuses on over the course of six months. But the program is unlike any other.

“I really didn't have high expectations,” said Fabian Ochoa-Garcia. “Others didn't have high expectations of me growing up.”

Garcia is the youngest of five and the first in his family to graduate high school. But after a little college, he started working.

“I was actually doing labor at a mobile home manufacturer,” he said. “If I hadn't come here, I would still be probably there and not in school.”

Giorgio Francini comes from a well-educated family, but he picked up a dead-end job after high school.

“I was moved around a lot, and kind of decided that I didn't need high school or it wasn't for me,” Francini said. “So, I slacked off, barely passed my classes, and really did not try at all.”

Year Up accepts young people 18 to 24, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds. They study business culture and team building. That includes dressing appropriately, and showing up on time and prepared every day.

The students also take classes either in computer technology or business. And they receive a stipend of $50 a week.

“What I learned is that so many of our young people in this country, their potential is being limited by their zip code, the color of their skin, the bank balance of their parents, and often the school system they attended,” said Year Up founder Gerald Chertavian.

Chertavian founded Year Up 15 years ago, but it is only present in cities where the business community supports it. He convinced them there are millions of young people, potential workers, just sitting on the sidelines.

“We know our students stay longer,” he said. “They are talented. They fulfill a need in the market for middle skills, technology, finance, sales, service, and we know the fastest-growing category of jobs in this country are middle-skill jobs.”

Year Up celebrated its first ever class in Phoenix last week. In July, most, if not all, of the students will start the second phase of the program: paid internships at major corporations.

“I'm planning on earning an internship either at Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase, and hopefully get hired on after that internship,” said Ochoa-Garcia.

“I think I want to finish my education with a bachelor's in business, if not more,” Francini said.

The bottom line: young people with little access get a foot in the door. Companies say they are getting workers they need.

“There is a positive return on investment in building this talent pipeline,” Chertavian said.

Year Up has managed to align business needs with societal needs, giving these young people a chance to shake more hands and shape their futures.

There is an application process for Year Up. The organization is looking for people who are willing to work hard to make it. There are always some who drop out.

Year Up will be looking for 80 new students in the fall. For more information, visit

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