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Investing in Youth Skills

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Investing in Youth Skills

In New York, Young Invincibles is calling for the state legislature to invest in the skills of young adults. Fifteen percent of New York 16 to 24 year olds are unemployed and looking for work—over 300,000 individuals. Many of these young people lack the skills that employers are looking for. 

The largest state-funded workforce program for youth in New York is the Urban Youth Jobs Program which authorizes $50 million in tax credits per year. The Program provides employers a credit of up to $5,000 per disadvantaged youth who is hired and retained for two years. Initially, the Program included skills training, but now it provides only a tax credit.  

In their report, “Sounding the Alarm,” Young Invincibles found the Urban Youth Jobs Program to be largely ineffective. For the report, Young Invincibles conducted interviews, focus groups, and surveys with employers. Employers said that the tax credit very seldom influenced their employment decisions.  Employers indicated they rather have skilled job applicants than a tax credit.

Young Invincibles, with the support of other organizations including the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), proposes repurposing funds from the tax credit to invest in programs with proven effectiveness. Young Invincibles recommends investing in sector strategies to train young adults for employment in particular industries, such as JobsFirstNYC’s Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project. They support investing in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs along the lines of the bi-partisan Empire State Apprenticeship Program sponsored by Assemblyman Bronson and Senator Gallivan. They also propose establishing a new grant program in which partnerships of workforce boards, employers, training providers, and Regional Economic Development Councils provide internships, on-the-job training and other services to disadvantaged young adults.

Some proposals still include tax credits for employers, but training would complement the credits so the new employees have the skills employers need. For Young Invincibles’ one-page summary please see, “Invest in Youth Skills”.