The economic recession has hit America’s youth particularly hard. Nearly 4 million of the unemployed are young people 25 and under. Many of them are not teenagers who need a minimum-wage job to earn pocket money to spend on weekends. They’re young adults who need a job — and job skills — so that they can support themselves and, sometimes, their families.
More than 5 million young people ages 16-24 are disconnected from employment and education and living in high-poverty communities in this country. Some of them are lucky. Some live in areas that have jobs and education programs that target youth and help them complete their education, learn job skills and find jobs that allow them to advance and earn a livable wage.
The Campaign for Youth is a coalition of national organizations that support some 400 programs across the United States that have been successful in assisting disadvantaged and disconnected youth on their path to employment. The Campaign is currently working to encourage Congress to increase federal investment in youth through summer and year-round jobs programs and other efforts that will help young people succeed and reverse the impact of the highest youth unemployment rate in 60 years.
The Campaign has developed a national strategy to reconnect youth to school and work that includes creating a White House Office of Youth Policy to coordinate federal efforts, providing grants to state and local youth development councils and community institutions, and investing in promising programs and innovations that are already successfully serving youth.
“We appreciate President Obama’s efforts to provide jobs for Americans affected by the recession, but we want to ensure that America’s youth participate in the recovery,” said Linda Harris, co-chair of the Campaign for Youth and Youth Policy Director at CLASP. “Too often, young people, especially males of color, are left behind in economic recoveries. Putting young people to work now and investing in upgrading their skills and education credentials is the best way to prepare them to compete for good jobs with good wages that allow them to support their families when the economy rebounds. This pool of young talent will be needed to fuel our future economy, and we can’t afford to let them remain idle or slip through the cracks.”