Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new analysis from Brookings revealed that 17 percent of all 18 to 24 year-olds are all out of work, or five million young people across the nation are still looking for jobs.
• The authors have four recommendations on how to address this issue through workforce development programs. How can donors fund and support this population’s efforts to enter the workforce?
• Check out the Giving Compass Workforce Development Guide for donors.
Helping young people prepare to engage in work and life as productive adults is a central task for any society. But after the great K-12 conveyer belt of education ends in the United States, young people out of high school face a landscape of college and training options that can be confusing, difficult to navigate, and financially out of reach—and they also face a labor market that favors those with college degrees.
It’s a small wonder then, that some young people are struggling. In a new analysis, my colleague Natalie Holmes and I found that 17 percent of all 18 to 24 year-olds, or 2.3 million people, in the nation’s largest cities and counties are out of work. Nationally, there are 5 million such young people.
On the whole, their circumstances suggest a difficult transition to adulthood. Only 36 percent worked in the past year, compared to 69 percent of all young adults. Twenty percent left high school before completion, and another forty-three percent report that a high school diploma is their highest level of educational attainment.
So what do we do? There is no shortage of ideas and examples of how to reform education and training, and promote stronger pathways into the workforce. They include:
- Re-engagement centers to connect young people without a high school diploma to education and training options
- More job training programs tailored to local economic conditions
- Better options to help people with low literacy and math prepare for job training or post-secondary education
- Continued focus on reforms and supports to ensure that students who enroll in college complete college
What we lack is a sense of urgency, political will, and imagination. We should tap into the intelligence and assets of the young people described above, and help them grow into their potential.
Read the full article about out of work young adults by Martha Ross at Brookings.
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