YouthWorks Is a Path Forward for Opportunity Youth

YouthWorks is a comprehensive workforce development initiative that helps youth ages 15-24 start on a path to a sustainable career. Today, YouthWorks has touched the lives of at least 1,700 youth and young adults. In fact, 87% have completed job training, 77% have secured work experience, and 21% have obtained a credential of value. It is stories of young adults like Bintou that exemplify the efforts made by YouthWorks.

Bintou joined the YouthWorks Initiative at Banneker High School, in South Fulton. After completing her job readiness training, Bintou was placed in a paid internship at a real estate company who was eager to partner on the initiative. As a way of congratulating Bintou on all of her accomplishments, the real estate company agreed to not only pay for Bintou to become a licensed realtor, but to provide personal support, tutoring, and online course study at no additional cost. Soon, Bintou will graduate high school, ready to showcase her talents and abilities, fully equipped with the skills necessary to embark on a productive and successful career journey, for life.

The rate of youth unemployment is the highest it has ever been since WWII, leaving our youth and our society at a disadvantage, on account of the loss of talent, and the increased cost for social support that mass unemployment can bring. Moreover, without a vigorous talent pipeline, businesses run the risk of continually struggling to fill necessary positions, which can have detrimental effects now, and well into the future. It has been the mission of YouthWorks, then, to combat this depletion of qualified youth, in order to enhance productivity in local businesses, and set youth and young adults up for success, in all of their future career endeavors.

In an effort to tackle this issue, United Way led the task, in 2013, on building a community collaboration, focused on improving outcomes for Opportunity Youth, defined as 15-24 year olds, who are disconnected from school and employment. YouthWorks, an expansion of United Way’s Opportunity Youth Work, is a comprehensive workforce development initiative, devoted to helping youth begin a path to a sustainable career, through granting economically disadvantaged adolescents with the opportunity to learn job readiness skills. By providing young people with the chance to enhance their work readiness skills and gain valuable work experience, YouthWorks is utilizing a strategy to keep young people engaged and focused on planning for the future.