This Labor Day, employers and communities can take action to invest in young talent. Hiring Opportunity Youth is a win-win. Employers tap into a much-needed pool of entry-level talent and these young people achieve a level of financial stability and start to take part in the formal economy as vested taxpayers and consumers. Perhaps most importantly, cycles of multi-generational poverty start to be disrupted as employed Opportunity Youth help others in their families. All of this is good for the country and economy writ large.

Support​ ​inclusive​ ​hiring​ ​practices​. There are 6.2 million unfilled jobs in America. By reimagining traditional hiring and retention practices in ways that are more inclusive of young workers, we can ensure companies more effectively tap into this pool of Opportunity Youth. By evolving their practices, employers can better address entry-level talent challenges, increase the return on their impact hiring investments and improve employment outcomes related to recruitment for those who face barriers to opportunity. To enact real change, employers must test, measure, and scale solutions that lead to better outcomes for younger workers and better outcomes for their businesses.

Invest​ ​in​ ​apprenticeships​.​ ​Recently, at an event hosted by Opportunity Nation, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) re-introduced The Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs or “LEAP” Act to increase apprenticeships through a new federal tax credit for employers. Creating new competitive grants to support public-private apprentice partnerships and partnerships between community colleges, employers and community-based organizations, will help those who take part in apprenticeships earn more over time and increase their probability of full-time employment.

Partner​ ​community​ ​colleges​ ​with​ ​careers​. Historically, efforts to improve youth employment in the U.S. have predominantly focused on education and training to better prepare young people for jobs. While these programs play a critical role, they alone cannot address this problem at scale. Incentivizing employers to work with post-secondary institutions creates career paths for young people. Career and technical education (CTE) and apprenticeships are powerful tools to prepare the students of today for the workforce of tomorrow. Both CTE and apprenticeships have proven benefits for students, adults, businesses and the economy. A person with a CTE-related associate’s degree or credential will earn between $4,000 and $19,000 more a year on average than a person with an arts and humanities degree. Similarly, those who engage in apprenticeships on average see gains in lifetime income of more than $300,000 compared to their peers.

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