As the economic recovery continues at a modest pace, young people remain one of the last groups to benefit from slowly expanding job opportunities.
Statistics show that only one-third of U.S. teens work regular jobs, a level half that of 30 years ago and the lowest percentage recorded since recordkeeping began after World War II.
In the face of this trend, mayors and their business and workforce development partners continue to innovate at the local level. Despite continuing economic woes, there are many promising practices being implemented in cities, such as:
- Philadelphia has enlisted a nonprofit intermediary organization to manage jobs programs and to blend and braid financial resources from a variety of sources.
- Dubuque, Reno, and Omaha have partnered with local school districts and others to establish dropout reengagement centers. to ensure that young people have basic educational credentials as they enter the workforce.
- With the support of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Board, Providence, R.I., and several other pilot sites have built financial literacy into job programs by educating young workers on how to manage their new income and save for their future.
- Baltimore provides a one-stop, youth friendly point of access for referrals and training.
- Cities across California are blending work and internship experience into secondary school designs.
Policymakers and funders are increasingly engaged in focused solution-seeking around youth employment. Three recent events demonstrate this renewed focus:
- The recent Generation Jobless conference sponsored by International House in New York City underscored the global nature of the youth employment challenge. Speakers including youth, representatives of cities and businesses, and journalists such as Fareed Zakaria outlined the causes and consequences of youth unemployment, and offered a number of possible responses.
- The second annual gathering of teams from 21 Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund sites in the cold, clear air of Aspen, Colo. fostered a lively conversation about prospective roles of major employers in hiring youth. Check out the storify of the convening.
- The Enough is Known for Action conference arranged by the Heller School-Center for Youth and Communities and co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor featured a call-to-action, problem-solving format as well as testimony about recent progress in multiple cities.
About the Author: Andrew Moore is a Senior Fellow in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education & Families. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewOMoore.