Employers Are Target of New Campaign to Add Young People to Workforce

Posted February 5, 2015, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Nearly 6 million young adults are out of school and seeking work. Forty percent of employers say a lack of skills among workers is the main reason for job vacancies, and two-thirds report difficulty filling open positions.

A new Ad Council campaign encourages employers to take a different approach to hiring to help bridge that gap. Through public service announcements and TV, radio and print ads, the national Grads of Life campaign aims to change the business community’s perceptions of young people ages 16–24 who are out of school and out of work. Many of these young people, often called opportunity youth, may not have work experience or a traditional educational history, but their life experiences have shaped them to be driven and loyal — with great potential, given an opportunity.  

With 60 percent of U.S. jobs requiring some college-level study, these young people will need a postsecondary education to get jobs and higher wages. We and other funders are supporting the Grads of Life campaign to get more employers involved in the skill development of youth so they are better prepared to meet their needs. 

With more than a dozen employers leading the charge and efforts underway to recruit more, Grads of Life is focused on getting businesses to contribute more directly to developing our future workforce. The campaign asks employers to consider four strategies to that end: mentoring, internships, short-term training opportunity and, ultimately, hiring young people. It also offers resources for employers on opportunity youth, how to create employment pathways, the return on investment in working with young people and best practices. 

Grads of Life ties in directly to Casey’s work focused on helping young people — particularly those hit hardest and with the greatest need — get back on track to college and careers. Our efforts especially focus on youth who are in low-income families, of color or involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, as well as those who are parents.

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