Why do we need the business community to be involved? Youth need business leaders to be their role models and mentors to help teach and mold the youth of today into our future workforce. In this role, business leaders have an opportunity to bridge the gaps and make a difference to help youth succeed in a difficult economy. Our US labor markets are failing youth in record numbers while increasing the ranks of the employed with older workers in a historically unprecedented phenomenon. Studies show that youth and young adults are experiencing ‘as much as 70% of the net reduction in total civilian employment1 across the country in this economic downturn’. We need to prepare and train our nation’s youth for their future employability for all our sake.
Ways that the Business Leaders Can Help
- Paid Work Experience — Eligible youth can be interviewed and selected by a business/organization to work in an entry-level position for experience and career exploration. The service provider, not the business, pays the youth minimum wage and covers Workers Compensation costs, etc. The service provider’s youth staff provides case management, any necessary support services and follow up services. The business provides training, supervision and maintains timesheets. Often times this is a youth’s first experience learning the responsibilities of the world of work; punctuality, cooperation, taking direction, proper attire, dependability and business ethics. The length of time a youth is in Paid Work Experience is determined prior to the start date.
- Ongoing Counseling and Guidance — This function can be provided by the business, however, the service provider is committed to continuing support of the youth so that he/she will be successful in their employment and eventually become self-sufficient. If a participant is having difficulty on the job, youth staff can be called upon to assist with job counseling and support.
The Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board Youth Council sponsors programs and services specifically designed for economically and disadvantaged youth in the Finger Lakes region. The focus of these programs is to reinforce positive social and employment skills through youth development activities and events. The Youth Council and their partners connect the business community with youth as advisors and trainers to promote academic learning as it relates to the workplace.
Why do you want to work? We pose this question to our youth program applications. The following are how some young people have replied:
- ‘I want to feel like I am doing something with my life’
- ‘Because I need a job to pay off restitution, help my family and myself, and to live decent’
- ‘I have skills but no “work experience” and just need a chance’
“Out With the Young and In With the Old,” Andrew Sum, Director, Northeastern University