Challenges opportunity youth face

Currently, employers are struggling to recruit, train and hire talent. Meanwhile, there are nearly 5 million opportunity youth that are disconnected from both education and work who are seeking paths to career advancement. These young people are eager to provide a living for themselves and their families, with 77 percent saying they feel very confident that they will achieve their goals. However, numerous obstacles stand in their way. While being a young person who needs a job but has no experience is difficult enough, many opportunity youth have also faced social and economic barriers such as homelessness, abuse, and financial hardships that have made it difficult for them to have a career path. Of the opportunity youth workers that WorkLife served in 2021, sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they would be unable to afford an emergency expense of $300. Additionally, WorkLife found a $7.13 wage difference between the opportunity youth workers that we served and all other age demographics.

Furthermore, barriers such as the high cost of education and lack of transportation contribute to their inability to start a career path without proper support. The unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 in the US is still over double that of the general population. It is imperative that employers provide opportunity youth with skills they need to help navigate the world of work as they start their careers.

The value of investing in opportunity youth

Companies like to hire youth for entry-level positions. This is especially true for retail, hospitality, and food services industries. By equipping your youth with the skills they need for workplace success, you are making them an asset to your company. Entry-level employees can build your talent pipeline which is important as only 40 percent of employers say they have a strong pipeline of diverse talent. Investing in opportunity youth also improves shareholder return. In fact, a company’s reputation for growth and attracting talent can explain much of the 30-70 percent gap between the book value of most companies and their market capitalizations.

Opportunity youth workers are valuable for other attributes as well including:

  • Supporting a shift to tech-intensive strategies
  • Strengthening current and future customer base
  • Building internal and external brand image and loyalty
  • High productivity based on age and stamina

Support for your opportunity youth workers

WorkLife can ensure that your opportunity youth workers are supported and address whatever is preventing them from success. Things we can help them with:

  • Connecting them to resources and support for challenges related to budgeting, medical debt, housing, legal, childcare, mental health, and more
  • Stress management and self-care
  • Navigating life-milestones, like purchasing a home
  • Goal-setting, like creating a savings plan

In 2021, we connected people to more than 6,000 resources and supportive services. Because of this support, 82% of survey respondents said that they now feel less stressed and 83% say they feel more confident.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how WorkLife can support you in empowering your employees to get to a better place, please don’t hesitate to contact us.