Youth Employment

NCY POSITION

The National Collaboration for Youth believes that:

  • Preparing youth for adulthood, self-sufficiency and career success requires the development of the requisite academic, vocational, employability, and work readiness skills within the broader context of youth development, involving:
    • teaching life skills and work related values (such as punctuality and the ability to deal with colleagues and supervisors);
    • connecting youth to caring and competent adults, including staff, volunteers, worksite supervisors, and mentors;
    • providing opportunities for youth to develop positive peer groups and to interact with peers who support their achievement and success;
    • exploring life options, including career paths that are non-traditional for a youngster's gender, race, culture, and/or social class;
    • providing meaningful connections between youngsters and their communities through accessible work and service opportunities;
    • promoting the concept of "life-long learning" to prepare young people to move through accessible work and service opportunities;
    • creating opportunities for youth to assume leadership roles and develop responsibility, self-reliance, and initiative and the desire and ability to participate in decisions affecting their lives;
    • providing opportunities for all youth to gain both access to and training in information and communications technology for the New Economy;
    • generating a wide range of opportunities to develop marketable skills, including apprenticeships, mentoring experiences, on-the-job training, summer work skill-building programs, national and community service programs, and career development, and work study programs at the high school and college levels;
    • engaging employers in shaping curriculum to ensure youth are learning the skills and competencies demanded by the contemporary workplace and exposing youth to workplaces and careers through work-based learning;
    • creating opportunities that take into account the life circumstances of youth, such as housing, health, transportation, and day-care needs if any;
    • ensuring the quality secondary education and standards of reading and math proficiency that are prerequisites for youth socialization and employability; and
    • connecting youth to postsecondary educational and training opportunities and promoting postsecondary success.
  • Strong links must be forged among business, labor, government, educational establishments, community-based organizations, and other voluntary youth development organizations, with their involvement with young people beginning long before high school graduation through multi-faceted, but coordinated, age-and stage-appropriate programs to solve the problems of youth unemployment.
  • Guidance about the relationship between positive youth development and employability should be made available to employers providing internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job-training opportunities.
  • Government at all levels must invest in evaluation and continuous improvement, and, based on what works, provide the leadership, standards, and support mechanisms that will enable schools and communities to prepare the nation's youth for rewarding careers.

PUBLIC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

The federal government should take the following actions related to youth employment:

  • Provide federal support to enhance the quality of secondary education and to expand the availability of school-based and community-based programs that provide non-traditional and experiential learning opportunities that are responsive to the learning styles of youth.
  • Ensure that young people who have left high school or are failing in the mainstream education system are provided with opportunities to achieve academic standards, earn recognized credentials, and develop the requisite academic, vocational, and developmental skills and competencies for career success.
  • Ensure that federal education and training programs provide incentives for strong local linkages among business, labor, government, schools, and community-based youth serving organizations.
  • Provide support for programs that work, for the transfer of expertise and for the adaptation or replication of successful practices and programs.
  • Provide support for capacity building and staff development in youth development and youth employment and training organizations.
  • Recognize youth development programs as effective outreach, recruiting, and work-site resources for youth employment programs.
  • Support separate, visible, and adequately funded government offices dedicated to the support of youth employment and training initiatives.
  • Develop and support access to technology and new technology skills training in youth development and employment programs.
  • Demonstrate federal commitment by increasing appropriations for youth employment and development programs, especially within the Departments of Labor, Education, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Health and Human Services and other departments and agencies.