Today, there are 6 million youth ages 16-24 that are out of school and out of work. The underemployment rate for recent college graduates with at least a bachelor's degree has steadily increased since 2001. At the same time, employers are struggling to fill more than 5 million available jobs. With talent serving as a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive environment, business leaders realize the long and short term repercussions associated with a "lost" workforce generation. Employing youth is not just the right thing to do; it is a smart business strategy.

The Center for Education and Workforce is bringing national attention to the challenge through the lens of employers. With youth unemployment at a historic high (nearly twice that of the national unemployment rate), increasing numbers of youth will have less work experience than ever before.

Improving youth employment opportunities and closing the skills gap requires the employer community to actively engage and implement strategies that fit into their long-term operation and growth. Our approach reinforces the business case for hiring youth and focuses on demand-driven solutions to support businesses employing young talent.

In early 2015, the Center for education released a white paper, titled Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for a Successful Strategy, which uniquely examines the barriers to hiring youth and details the approaches and essential elements of companies that are effectively building a youth talent pipeline. The white paper serves as the foundation for our community engagement strategy where we will work with our network of state and local chambers to implement high-impact, market-based youth employment principles in three communities.

The Center for Education and Workforce's Youth Employment initiative is about solving real-world business problems that help America's economy to grow, businesses to be competitive, and all students to have the opportunity for success.