Six-and-a-half million people in the country ages 16 to 24 are not in school or employed. It’s a troubling trend highlighted in a new Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Indiana Youth Institute president and CEO Bill Stanszykiewicz says young people today face the double whammy of fewer jobs available because of the economy and higher skill levels required by entry-level jobs that do exist.
“The jobs that are available predominantly require education after high school. So, if Hoosier teenagers are not getting education after high school - if they’re not even staying throughout high school to get that diploma - in so many ways, this report reminds us those kids are writing themselves an economic death sentence.”
The report says being out of school and out of work puts young people on the road to chronic underemployment and the inability to achieve financial stability. When regular jobs aren’t available, the Casey Foundation report recommends alternatives such as community service, internships and summer and part-time work.
The report says these “disconnected” young people must be given multiple, flexible pathways to achieve success, but first, says Stanczykiewicz, comes communicating with them.
“Obviously the hardest kid to reach is going to be that kid who is disconnected - the kid who has dropped out of high school - the kid who’s not in a relationship with family or community. And those are the kids who are going to suffer most in the 21st-century economy. “
The report, “Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity,” is available at aecf.org.
– Rushville Republican