Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Stan Kawczynski
Sunnyvale Center for Innovation, Invention and Ideas (SCI3)

The City of Sunnyvale operated a Patent and Depository Library since 1963, maintaining and providing public access to all U.S. patents issued by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Changes in technology making the same information available elsewhere made it clear that this operation would become a drain on the General Fund of the City in fiscal year 1994-95.

To remedy this situation while maintaining a valuable regional service, the City fostered a partnership with the PTO, leading to the creation of the Sunnyvale Center for Innovation, Invention and Ideas (SCI3) in November 1994. The objectives of the partnership are to: assist entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that use new technologies; help established firms maintain their competitiveness through better access to technological information, and increase the number of high quality jobs in the region. Specifically, SCI3 uses state-of-the-art technology to provide timely, accurate, and cost effective patent, trademark and related intellectual property information. When created, it was the only location outside of the PTO offices in Virginia with the ability to provide direct on-line image access to the patent database. It also has video conference capacity so business people can communicate directly with patent examiners and other officials without flying to Washington. They are also able to participate in PTO-provided seminars on-site and file document disclosures.

There are benefits for all the parties associated with this project. Customers benefit from: Better patent and trademark information and services and improved business development services. The City benefits from: Creating a magnet for business, demonstrating its commitment to helping business and industry, improving services in a cost effective way, and generating revenue. The PTO benefits from: Providing customer driven service, increasing visibility and accessibility to its West Coast customers, and enhanced effectiveness and efficiency.

SCI3 is fully integrated into Sunnyvale's performance budgeting system, so it has a program outcome statement defining its purpose with specific, quantifiable measures of success.

SCI3 recently won Vice President Gore's Hammer Award. The City and the PTO are committed to the continued success of this exciting and innovative partnership -- a new way of conducting government business.

NOVA Youth Employment Office

Sunnyvale administers a six-city Private Industry Council known as NOVA. Recently, NOVA established the Youth Employment Office (YEO), a one-stop career and employment center for youths. Federal funds were used as part of the seed money and are also used for part of the ongoing programs.

The YEO is located where youth go: in a regional shopping mall. This initiative is unique for its community involvement, variety of programs offered, and accessibility, both to walk-in traffic and via the Internet. The location is provided at below-market rates by the Sunnyvale Town Center; services offered within the YEO are supported by federal, city, corporate and private foundation funding.

NOVA's Youth Employment Office was developed with four specific aims in mind:

  1. To have a consistent, accessible, and inviting location where youth could go year-round to get information about employment opportunities and careers.

  2. To provide a one-stop center for youth seeking career opportunities or information with a variety of youth employment programs and activities and have sufficient resources to allow self-directed career exploration as well as assistance when needed.

  3. To offer schools, staff from other agencies, employers and youth a clearinghouse of information about youth employment opportunities and issues.

  4. To create a continuous improvement process that would capitalize on both experience and technology to improve our ability to generate successful outcomes for our youth customers.

Any youth between the ages of 13 and 22 can come to the YEO and get service. There is no restriction based on income status, educational level, residence, etc. for basic job search services. They may attend our Job Search Workshop, use the Resource Center, or enroll in one of several federal and city programs (Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, JTPA Year Round-Youth Training, or the City of Sunnyvale's volunteer training program).

Youth throughout the region know that the NOVA YEO is open year-round with staff, computers and information to meet their career and job needs.

Youth @Work

Youth@Work is an Internet-based interactive database, linking employers and educators with youth aged 14-24. Youth@Work provides broad access to the world of work and work experience and complementary job search training. Since 1996, Youth@Work has expanded from its original two-county area to include Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

In December 1995, Congress rescinded funding for the Summer Youth Employment and Training Program (SYETP)--the cornerstone of summer employment opportunities for youth in most communities throughout the United States.

Not willing to leave youth without an effective employment opportunity, NOVA Private Industry Council (PIC) initiated a collaboration with public and private sector entities to meet the needs of young job seekers during the busy summer period and beyond. Smart Valley, Inc., a non-profit organization committed to fostering electronic community, brought together a number of leading high-tech companies to design an interactive job search vehicle. The goal was to create an integrated job search information and training system that would operate year-round, serve area employers as well as youth from all backgrounds, and be free of charge to users. NOVA built a coalition of public sector agencies committed to providing sites, staff, and support to the effort, including the three Private Industry Councils in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, all six California Employment Development Department field offices, city and county LEOs and community-based organizations. NOVA has also formed a Youth Advisory Board to gather continuing input into the Youth@Work service. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has also contributed substantially to Youth@Work.

Summer Youth Employment Training Program funding was restored in April, 1996. The Youth@Work team, however, continued with its plan to create this innovative system. Youth@Work now forms an integral part of federally funded summer programs, linking participants to unsubsidized work opportunities and career development information as well as subsidized work experience.

In August 1996, NOVA and its partners unveiled Youth@Work, an on-line community service connecting employers with youth seeking work in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Youth@Work's database can be accessed by any computer linked to the Internet. For those without home or school access to the Internet, Youth@Work maintains public access sites distributed across the two counties, where youth can use terminals free of charge and receive instruction on their use if necessary. Youth can review a wide range of job listings which can be searched by skills, interests, and location. To access the employer's contact information, youth must attend a job preparation workshop at a Youth@Work site, then meet one-on-one with an employment counselor to receive additional preparation and job specifics. Counselors confirm that the applicant's skills and experience match the job requirements before releasing the employer' s contact information.

Youth@Work provides employers with a convenient, effective way to hire young workers. Employers can list jobs by phone or fax, or directly on the Youth@Work web page. Employers' listings are suppressed from view until the listing is screened by Youth@Work staff. Youth@Work's pre-screening process ensures that only qualified and prepared young applicants are referred for each job, which adds value for employers. The centralized, easy to use system encourages employers to participate in development and training of the workforce of the future.

Youth, educators, and career counselors use Youth@Work's job listings, labor market information, and community resource pages to research the skills and experience that are required for different jobs and examine the links between education, skills acquisition, and career. The Youth@Work database is designed to provide listings for internships and volunteer opportunities, offering youth the chance to explore their career goals and clarify future education plans.

Youth@Work has generated tremendous excitement, say local officials. The Youth@Work Web site received over 100,000 hits in its first three months of operation. Over 1,000 jobs have been listed by employers, with more added every day. As of the Spring of 1997, the system is being expanded into Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. NOVA and partner agency staff who are involved in Youth@Work will be collaborating with the new service areas to develop a package to make Youth@Work easily replicable.

In response to the input of employers and educators, a career exploration module is now being built into the database, offering interactive listings and access to volunteer and internship opportunities, apprenticeships, and work experience programs. Employers, educators, and students will have an open channel for teaching and learning about the world of work, supplementing the School-to-Careers initiative.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (408) 730-7473

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