Employer Engagement

With U.S. employers struggling to find skilled workers and 10 million young Americans unable to get jobs, the chasm between workforce supply and demand is unacceptably high. America is on track to fall short by an estimated five million skilled workers within the next six years. Employers have a significant role to play in addressing this crisis. 


We Got This: Youth Employment Employer Solutions

Employers in all sectors are a critical part of the solution for connecting young adults to meaningful employment, mentoring, education, internship and training opportunities. Opportunity Nation’s call to action, We Got This: Youth Employment includes the following employer solutions:

Train young adults through work-based learning experiences.

  • Expand access to work-based learning such as internships and modern-day apprenticeships among industries, small business owners and third-party providers; increase awareness of these opportunities and their benefits.

Hire youth and increase employer demand for wider pipelines of young talent.

  • Increase hiring and/or providing of meaningful, hands-on opportunities for young people that benefit both youth and employers. Businesses with supply chains and vendors should also ask this commitment from their partner companies.
  • Identify internal barriers to accessing wider talent pipelines — such as degree requirements for every job, even when the necessary skillsets do not require one — and explore the value of human resources solutions in modifying or removing these requirements.
  • Approach the hiring of youth not as a discrete program, but rather as a mechanism to shift systems, mindset and orientation that drive scale.

Mentor youth through work-based, service learning or civic engagement experiences.

  • Create job shadowing and externship opportunities for young adults to give them valuable exposure to work options and professional networks as they map their career pathways.
  • Leverage support from nonprofits, schools and colleges to launch or expand youth-focused programs, understanding that mentoring is also good for business as it helps to develop talent, fosters employee loyalty and creates career pathways.

Graduate more students with post-secondary credentials; boost high school diploma rates.

  • Build smoother transitions from school to work through closer collaboration among schools, community colleges, universities, nonprofits and employers so young adults can gain valuable, transferrable skills while becoming ready for college and careers.
  • Promote and help build direct partnerships between employers and higher education institutions to ensure clear links between post-secondary credentials and career pathway job experiences.
  • Identify high-quality, industry-validated credentials that are used for hiring.
  • Encourage opportunities for every student to be connected with at least one employer and have some form of work experience with that employer.

Revive opportunity by helping young, nonviolent offenders get on paths to careers and stable, productive lives.

  • Lead by hiring and/or training post-adjudicated youth and young adults who are on probation for nonviolent crimes.

Grads of Life

Following the successful Youth and Business Toolkit that Opportunity Nation launched alongside Gap Inc. and the White House Council for Community Solutions, in 2014 Opportunity Nation partnered with Year Up, the Ad Council, Arnold Worldwide, MENTOR and the Employment Pathways Project on a new PSA campaign, Grads of Life. The Grads of Life PSA platform seeks to address the growing divide between the 5.6 million disconnected youth in the U.S. and employers who need their talent. The goal is to drive employer demand to work with disconnected youth and leverage their potential to fuel business growth.

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