What are the Key Distinguishers?
The Key Distinguishers embrace a core set of practices that help all stakeholders involved in youth talent development—including young people, schools, community-based organizations, and employers—to come together and ensure they are meeting shared expectations for a high-quality, impactful system that works well for ALL students, employers, and the economy. The Key Distinguishers, developed by and for practitioners, provide guidance and examples of how to achieve the goals of the CareerReadyNYC framework.
In our work to date, we have identified eight Key Distinguishers that are the principles core to braiding learning from work into academic pathways:
- 1. Collaborative design
- 2. Partnerships
- 3. Staffing and infrastructure
- 4. Data and accountability
- 5. Student career success
- 6. Credit for learning from work
- 7. Social capital
- 8. Competencies for family-sustaining careers
Building an inclusive economy, one that cultivates the success of ALL young people, demands we reinvent our youth talent development strategy with a unified vision for high-quality experiences.
To create a new youth talent development strategy—one that places work-based learning at its center—we must act now to build shared criteria across the industries, groups, and people invested in youth talent development. Only when we have a unified understanding of what high-quality experiences look like—and the components necessary to achieve them—can we move toward our shared vision of a city in which all young people can contribute to and benefit from a thriving economy.
Implementing the Key Distinguishers
This year, we’re working with our partners to roll out the Key Distinguishers, further testing, developing, and championing the essential features of integrated work-based learning as a framework for making best practice common practice and elevating student career success. We aim to release the Key Distinguishers 1.0 as a pragmatic and go-to tool for use by practitioners as well as other stakeholders eager to advance this work.
While we look ahead, we’re also encouraged by the positive impact the Key Distinguishers have had to date and continue to use past learnings to inform our evolving work. Read more to learn how the Key Distinguishers are already adding value.
Using the Key Distinguishers to Frame and Implement Virtual Internships:
In the summer of 2020, Bronx and NYC providers who typically coordinate and host youth work experiences faced a number of challenges to offering traditional opportunities. Between the practical health concerns of the pandemic and related budget cuts—like the extreme cut brought to the Summer Youth Employment Program—providers were forced to quickly and radically rethink how they offer internships. In the wake of so much disruption, HERE to HERE developed Key Distinguishers for Virtual Internships, a set of best practices to help guide practitioners as they pivoted to offer virtual internships. Using the Key Distinguishers as a framework, HERE to HERE was able to organize philanthropic investments in virtual internships for summer 2020 through an RFP co-designed with students, offer guidance to applicants and funders, and support a learning community of the selected providers.
You can read about that work in What’s Next: The Promise of Remote Internships in the Future of Work-Based Learning.
Working With CUNY to Build Credit for Work
In 2020, we joined City University of New York (CUNY) staff, representatives from community-based organizations, employers, and public officials to participate in the 2020 Swiss Center on the Economics and Management of Education and Training Systems (CEMETS) Institute. Together and with guidance from CEMETS researchers, we’re learning how the Swiss dual system of education—a model that credentials learning where it happens, both in the classroom and on the job—can be mapped to an NYC context with CUNY positioned as a leading credentialing institution. Since coming together in fall 2020, we’ve been working alongside our CEMETS partners and listening to students to determine how we can transform credit for learning at work into a foundational element of every young person’s pathway. CEMETS team members are leading promising work that puts our learnings from the Institute into practice. In the coming months, we’ll learn more about the guidelines, partnerships, and infrastructure key to expanding credit for learning at work.