The Other Young Adult Employment Market: The Opportunity Youth Segment
Unfortunately, in a far larger part of the young-adult marketplace are the millions of young people between ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school and out of work, and they are most often the forgotten people in the employment marketplace. This is a pandemic that sits near the epicenter of the middle-skills crisis, as most have left high school without a diploma and suffer from acute achievement and skills gaps. While education remains the single most important factor that drives employment and life-time income, this cohort is most often disconnected and lacks even basic credentials, skills and direction.
This reality helps explain the significant part of the talent crisis at the middle-skills level of the economy as more than 1.5 million students annually drop out of high school and nearly 7 million of the 39 million people in the 16-to-24 age group struggle for connection to a growing economy.
Longer-Term Implication of Today’s At-Risk Adult Challenges
Regrettably, a generation of young people are not getting the relevant work experience needed to grow their skills, yet a survey by America’s Promise indicates almost 50 percent are seeking full-time employment. While they are optimistic that opportunity awaits, the factual reality is that the barriers are significant. For example, 31 percent of high school graduates indicate they did not continue their education because it was too expensive. This group of young adults are stuck trying to stay above the minimum living standards while navigating a training and education ecosystem not designed for their needs.
To ensure that this generation’s hopes of a successful future are brought to fruition, we must provide them the chance—in ways both accessible and affordable—to build the necessary skills to enter the job market.