Youth and Work

Posted December 31, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog youthandwork 2013

A 2012 KIDS COUNT pol­i­cy report revealed that near­ly 6.5 mil­lion U.S. teens and young adults are nei­ther in school nor in the work­force, veer­ing toward chron­ic under­em­ploy­ment as adults and fail­ing to gain the skills employ­ers need in the 21st century.

Many of these young peo­ple, who range from ages 16 to 24 and are often described as dis­con­nect­ed youth, face numer­ous obsta­cles, includ­ing greater com­pe­ti­tion from old­er work­ers for increas­ing­ly scarce entry-lev­el jobs. Many lack the high­er skill set required for the well-pay­ing jobs that are avail­able. They often don’t grad­u­ate from high school on time or pre­pared for col­lege, fur­ther decreas­ing their employ­ment options. And a num­ber of them con­tend with hur­dles beyond their con­trol, such as grow­ing up in pover­ty, hav­ing few work­ing adults as role mod­els, attend­ing low-per­form­ing schools and liv­ing with a sin­gle parent.

The lack of edu­ca­tion, oppor­tu­ni­ty and con­nec­tion to school or work has long-term impli­ca­tions: Dis­con­nect­ed youth may become adults unable to achieve finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty and with­out employ­ment prospects. And, as about 20 per­cent of them have chil­dren of their own, their inabil­i­ty to find work and build careers can per­pet­u­ate an inter­gen­er­a­tional cycle of poverty.

The Casey Foun­da­tion is com­mit­ted to ensur­ing all youth have access to oppor­tu­ni­ties to gain work expe­ri­ence and build the skills nec­es­sary to be suc­cess­ful adults. With more than 60 per­cent of U.S. jobs expect­ed to require some col­lege-lev­el study, post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion is crit­i­cal to get­ting a job — and one that pays well. The Foun­da­tion is invest­ing in sev­er­al strate­gies to help dis­con­nect­ed youth — espe­cial­ly youth of col­or, in low-income fam­i­lies and the 1.4 mil­lion who have chil­dren of their own — get back on track and con­nect­ed to col­lege, post­sec­ondary cre­den­tials and, ulti­mate­ly, careers.

Our key strate­gies include:

Addi­tion­al Resources

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