A 2012 Annie E. Casey Foundation report on Youth Work and Policy highlights the following statistics:
- Youth Employment is at its lowest level since World War II
- In Indiana only 27% of 16-19 year olds are employed and only 60% of 20-24 year olds
- Nation-wide, 6.5 million people 16 to 24 years old are both out of school and out of work
The economic recession significantly affected rates of adult employment. But it also increased competition for low-wage, entry level jobs—the same jobs that once provided job experience for working youth. “Kids haven’t gotten anywhere in the economy’s recovery,” said Northeastern University Director of Labor and Market Studies, Andrew Sum. “Adults and older kids are filling those jobs. When kids go to look, they have so many people ahead of them in line they go to the back of the line.”
A study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that underemployment in the youth population has lasting consequences. Youth who miss out on early work experience are more likely to experience unemployment later in life and are less likely to achieve higher levels of career attainment.
In my experience, employment opportunities in my teens helped build essential “soft-skills” like responsibility and determination, as well as basic budgeting and personal finance skills. These opportunities allowed me to demonstrate substantial work experience as I searched for work study jobs in college and after graduation. Moreover, those employment opportunities helped give me a sense of the kind of career path that would use my talents and bring me enjoyment—and also those career paths that would not suit me!
If you’re looking for a program that’s hitting the mark in preparing high school students for employment opportunities in high school and beyond, check out the Jobs For America’s Graduate’s Programwhich currently operates career and college preparation courses in several Indianapolis schools.
If you’re looking for a meaningful conversation for youth who are interested in learning more about youth entrepreneurship and job opportunities, check out the Real Talk Youth Summit put on by the KI Eco Center in partnership with the Mid North Quality of Life Plan. Topics for the April 13th summit include youth entrepreneurship, jobs, drugs, and hip hop.