Youth employment has been on a decreasing trend since 2000 and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB) believes that educators and employers could work to get young people more engaged.
The number of 16-24-year-olds who work summer jobs in the region has decreased by 55 percent, and the level of youth employment overall has decreased by 39 percent in the past 14 years. Also, one of eight young people in the region does not work or go to school.
“We see that there are half as many individuals in the younger age groups working in our local economy than in the older age groups. And so taken together, what we’re finding is that we’re concerned about the pipeline of workers that are available to replace the talent that is currently working,” said 3RWIB CEO Stefani Pashman.
One of every five students in the region does not finish high school and only 29 percent finish college within six years. Part of the reason that kids drop out according to 3RWIB is because they do not see a connection between their education and their future jobs.
Pashman believes that educators and employers need to work together to get the youth engaged.
“It’s a multipronged strategy that needs to take place, both from the K-12 education system, and then that we align our curriculum in our post-secondary institutions with what our employers need. And finally we need employers to get in the game by opening their doors for youth,” said Pashman.
There are many opportunities for youth in manufacturing, energy, construction, finance and healthcare as older workers begin to retire, and Pashman believes that youth should be able to fill these jobs.
“We have a very diverse economy and we want to make sure our youth understands that there are many opportunities for them to use a broad skill set, and that we want to open those doors for them to see what it takes to get there, so as they aspire towards that career they know what they need to do,” said Pashman.