Ensuring Equitable Recovery for Young Adults: An Update on Our Workforce Agenda

In mid-November 2020, JobsFirstNYC launched our Agenda for Young Adult Workforce Development  with a committee of over 40  multi-sector leaders from across the field. These leaders came together with JobsFirstNYC to create a workforce agenda that would:

  • Provide a citywide policy agenda rooted in the real needs of young people, on-the-ground practitioners, and in successful policies and interventions;
  • Detail practice changes needed to better prepare and connect young adults to work now and to the future of work in a rapidly shifting, increasingly virtual economy; and
  • Build an actionable, realistic, and time-bound framework for citywide systems change of the young adult workforce development field.

Since the November 19th launch, we have worked with our partners though an investigation phase to identify and define the challenges and opportunities, and to build out a comprehensive set of recommendations for the field guided by our systems change framework.Working groups explored a range of critical challenges related to Infrastructure and Policy; Labor Market Information, Employer Partnerships, and Emerging Sectors; Program Design and Support Services; Systems Collaboration and Accountability; and Young Adult Leadership, Power, and Autonomy.

We are still in the process of organizing all of the ideas and information we collected over the course of these 16 events, attended by over 150 people from community-based organizations, government agencies, private philanthropy, higher education, workforce training programs, and employer intermediaries, as well as young adults themselves. However, some of the high-level recommendations so far include:

  • Focus on equitable recovery from the COVID-19 recession that concentrates on historically marginalized communities and balances immediate needs with long-term systems change;
  • Create young adult-designed solutions that center their power and provide access to opportunities;
  • Create a continuum of supports across different stages of development to prepare young people to thrive; and
  • Reduce the siloed nature of young adult workforce programs.

Some solutions presented were echoed by young adults at a forum they attended on February 10, 2021.  A few of the high-level asks by young adults include:

  • Access to peer mentoring, as well as mentors who represent their own intersectional identities;
  • Integration of life skills, including financial literacy, into school curricula; and
  • Training that looks beyond their first job placement and helps them chart a career path.

As we look ahead, JobsFirstNYC is working to integrate all of these ideas into a single set of recommendations for a final report that will be published in April 2021. Following the report publication, we’ll be hosting a series of events, virtually and via social media, to ensure that we’re driving towards implementation, and that policy makers and systems leaders are prioritizing the changes necessary to connect more young adults to economic mobility. If you would like to join us, please reach out to Jessica Conway-Pierce at jpierce@jobsfirstnyc.org.

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