Last week, we launched the Youth Employment Works strategy to set a clear vision for young people in the workforce system and its public and private sector partners. This work is urgent and necessary to promote high quality career pathways for young workers to ensure they are prepared and empowered to engage in a dynamic labor market full of opportunities.
Young people stand uniquely positioned to support and grow our local economies. We need clear pathways to connect young workers with good careers that center equity, job quality and supportive services. As part of the Youth Employment Works strategy, we're challenging stakeholders in the workforce system to partner with us in centering youth in all we do. Together, we can build economies of scale with our collective resources and achieve the ambitious goals of the Youth Employment Works strategy:
- Deliver a “no wrong door” youth workforce system that offers seamless access to supportive services and workforce development opportunities for youth and young workers.
- Increase public and private commitments to youth and young adult career pathways, such that businesses, employers, labor organizations, training partners and philanthropy across all sectors invest in high-quality pathways for young people, building a strong basis for the future workforce.
- Offer guaranteed paid work experiences so that ALL young people, especially opportunity youth, can access and participate in high-quality, career pathway aligned work experiences that are safe and age appropriate.
At a time when labor force participation rates for teens and young adults have been trending downward for decades and more than 4 million people ages 16-24 aren’t in school or working, investing in our future workforce is critical for America’s competitiveness.
We’re calling on our critical partners to join us in centering young people in strategic workforce efforts. Help us reach 100 ambitious, action-driven, measurable commitments by this summer.
No matter your role in the workforce system, there is a way for you to participate in the national Call to Action on youth employment. We recently released ETA guidance that outlines promising practices for partnership and service delivery through the youth workforce system and lays out a roadmap for how we at the Department of Labor are aligning our programs and funds to advance this vision.
Employers looking to grow talent and develop their future workforce can:
- Implement the Good Jobs Principles at every career rung, including entry-level jobs.
- Build sector-aligned career pathways and establish partnerships with community colleges, high-school, career and technical education, and training providers.
- Leverage the workforce training system.
- Launch a pre-apprenticeship or Registered Apprenticeship program.
- Work with nearby Job Corps campuses or explore YouthBuild.
- Connect with and join regional workforce development boards.
- Interview or hire young people, particularly opportunity youth, who are served by WIOA programs.
- Increase paid work experiences, recognizing the difference paid work experience can have in a young person’s life and future success.
Program providers that offer training, mentorship and wraparound services can:
- Refer and partner with local workforce development boards or organizations.
- Contact your local American Job Center to refer your services.
- Support workforce agencies in implementing promising practices.
- Invest in local communities’ efforts to build capacity; impact strategies that develop partnerships and provide supportive services like mental health support or transportation, and incorporate youth voice and empowerment.
- Convene, research and fund technical assistance to scale and accelerate efforts to increase, train and support youth workforce development professionals.
Local or community leaders can:
- Create a culture that fosters systems change efforts and silo-busting by making it a strategic priority.
- Create a paid youth advisory council to elevate youth voice, perspective and expertise.
- Establish a strategic agenda on youth employment that centers cross-systems partnership building.
- Develop a strategy to identify and create long-term partnerships with employers that offer good jobs and create strategic, flexible career pathways to good jobs in response to local labor market needs.
With the Biden-Harris administration’s historic investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy, and economic and educational recovery, we have a window of opportunity to ensure that young people are not left behind. The time is now to invest in all young people.
Supporting the full potential of all our nation’s young people is possible. It’s an economic imperative and foundational to the ideal of American opportunity. How will you work to create a no-wrong-door youth workforce system? Tell us by joining the Call to Action on Youth Employment now!
Brent Parton is the acting assistant secretary of labor for Employment and Training.