Mobility, Career Pathways, and the Landscape of Employer and Youth Engagement in the South

An Issue Brief for the Annie E. Casey Foundation

By MDC

July 11, 2015

Summary

It’s tough for a southern kid born at the bottom of the income ladder to get ahead. Overcoming regional economic hardship, long-tolerated racial inequity and subpar education infrastructure is almost impossible. But there is progress. This issue brief examines two key elements connecting southern young adults with rewarding employment opportunities: employer and youth engagement. The brief offers a framework to assess the preconditions for effectively engaging employers and young adults and identifies examples of promising efforts. It also considers what philanthropy can do to reinforce the importance of employer and youth engagement and expand the use of both in the South. 

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

The Theory? Engaging employers and young adults can change the job opportunity landscape in the South

A sampling of southern communities found that they are trying to leverage opportunities to change business as usual and improve the chances of kids from low-income families getting good jobs. They are engaging employers in tough conversations, recognizing that employer success is essential to the economic growth of their regions. Youth engagements are much rarer, but when initiated, they reflect the conviction of leaders that engaging young people in strategic education-to-career discussions can contribute to stronger youth participation and higher rates of persistence and success.

Findings & Stats

Static Mobility

A child born in the bottom fifth of the economic ladder in the South has a less than 7% chance of rising to the top fifth. 

Statements & Quotations