Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for a Successful Strategy
February 20, 2015
There are concrete benefits that young adults can bring to companies. Indeed, savvy business leaders are realizing revenue increases, cash savings, and tangible workforce improvements by tapping into the potential of 16- to 24-year-old workers. These companies span a range of industries—communications, manufacturing, retail, health care, government, and financial services—and vary in size from small local firms to global powerhouses. Their leaders report that investments in young adult workers pay off by addressing critical business problems in four important ways: they create a robust pipeline of their company’s next generation of talent, fill critical skills gaps, increase workforce diversity that enables greater customer connection, and spur innovation.
Despite these considerable advantages, the potential of young adult workers seems to be a well-kept secret. While 40% of U.S. employers struggle to fill more than 5.0 million open jobs, 6 million young adults are neither working nor in school. Indeed, in December 2014, 16 to 19 year-olds faced a December unemployment rate of 16.8% and 20 to 24 year-olds faced a rate of 10.8%, both far above the overall rate of 5.6%.
Making Youth Employment Work looks at youth employment through the lens of the business community and argues that youth hiring practices are not just "good to do," but also serve a valuable business function. The paper notes five competitive advantages of employing young adults, outlines approaches to implementation, and identifies common barriers to success and the essential elements necessary to mitigate those challenges. Additionally, the report offers an employer checklist and case studies of companies who have been successful in their efforts.