HR: We Can Help Solve the Youth Unemployment Challenge

Do you remember your first job? The skills and lessons you learned? The excitement of that first paycheck you earned? Those early work experiences helped develop your work ethic, grow you professionally and take the first steps along a career path. But today, millions of young people are missing out on this critical opportunity.

In the U.S., nearly 3 million youth are being left behind, even as the overall unemployment rate falls. SHRM and other business leaders on a B20 taskforce also identified youth unemployment as one of the top challenges to global economic growth. Being out of work at such an early stage has long-lasting effects on these young people and far-reaching effects on business and society.   

Moreover, the millions of unemployed young people in this country represent a tremendous pool of untapped talent.

This is why SHRM is proud to partner with Jobs for Americas Graduates (JAG) to make sure our nation’s youth get the opportunities they need today to succeed as citizens, workers and leaders tomorrow.

And today we joined 100 thought leaders across business, government and the nonprofit sector to come up with solutions to the youth unemployment challenge. 

SHRM is doing its part. For example, we supported the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act as it moved through Congress, and gave feedback to the Department of Labor on how to get to a workforce development system that better meets the needs of employers. We are also exploring ways to advocate and promote work-based trainings for youth, including through the new Global Apprenticeships Network, because we know that internships, apprenticeships and other job-related opportunities improve the odds of young people. This is the kind of work happening at the macro level.

But perhaps what is most exciting and holds the most promise to move the needle on youth unemployment, is what‘s happening on the ground at the local level. Across the country, SHRM members are finding creative ways to find, hire and skill up fresh talent.

·         In Wichita, Kansas, when SHRM member and HR and safety manager Kathy Jewett found that candidates were falling short of the job requirements for open positions at her company, she partnered with a local community college to develop a curriculum that better prepared graduates to meet her needs as an employer. 

·         In South Central Michigan, SHRM member and HR manager Angela Grissom is working to connect youth to employment and education at one of the state’s one-stop job centers. Her organization funds wages, provides résumé-writing help and eases the paperwork burden on employers so that some of Michigan’s most at-risk young people get on a solid pathway to employment.

·         In Seminole County, Florida, SHRM member and HR Director Ann Speak developed a comprehensive one-year internship program at her organization, complete with rotating assignments, to give students exposure to her industry and build a pipeline of future talent.

It’s clear that the HR profession has a lot to offer—and much to gain—when it comes to solving the youth unemployment challenge. Our nation’s young people get the career experience they need and our organizations get the talent we need to succeed now and in the future.


Join us in ensuring that more youth get that proverbial foot in the door.




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