Giving Compass' Take:

Opportunity youth are now surpassing millennials as the most desirable members of the workforce.  Due to their fierce loyalty, they will stay much longer than at one workplace than their millennial counterparts, making them good candidates for companies to invest in. 

• Will this be a temporary trend and will opportunity youth soon move from job to job as the millennials do? How will fourth industrial revolution and the changing workforce affect job growth decisions for this new generation? 

• Read more about how the organization Year Up focuses on training and development for opportunity youth specifically. 

For those businesses that have tapped people from this cohort for entry-level positions, the payoff has been tremendous: Once they land at a company, they tend to become highly engaged—and fiercely loyal—employees.

“Because we invest in them, they invest in us,” says Ebony Frelix, senior vice president for philanthropy and engagement at, the nonprofit arm of Salesforce, the business software giant.

Over the past decade, 334 interns have been placed at Salesforce and by Year Up, a nonprofit that trains opportunity youth and connects them with major employers. Of those interns, 170 have gone into full-time Salesforce jobs. And among those employees, retention is notably strong.

Year Up says that the data it has been able to collect from the 300 employers in its national network (mostly in technology, finance, and healthcare) reveal a consistent pattern: Younger workers stay in their first job for about 18 months on average. But for opportunity youth, the figure is more than twice as long—40 to 45 months.

Gap Inc., for instance, says that those it hires out of its internship program for teens and young adults from low-income areas, This Way Ahead, wind up staying with the company twice as long as their peers.

So, why don’t more companies accommodate opportunity youth?

For starters, it takes a willingness to find value in candidates who don’t have a formal degree beyond high school. “We hire for potential, not credential,” says Hayer.

Just how many companies will make this leap is uncertain. A recent survey of human resources executives by Learning House and Future Workplace found that 90% say they’re open to accepting nontraditional candidates who don’t hold a four-year college degree. But other studies suggest that this may be mostly rhetoric.

Read the full article about opportunity youth by Rick Wartzman at Fast Company