Boomerang kids. Recession generation. Failure to launch.
The news media and Hollywood are replete with terms for today's young people and the challenges they face entering the job market, but ideas about how to address the challenges are much harder to find.
Community Forums Network, a public engagement organization that began this spring with backing from the Spady family of Dick's Drive-In Restaurants, recently released the results of a survey that asked a series of questions about how to improve young adult employment.
Respondents generally agreed that:
- The public and private sectors both need to provide funding for programs that will give youth and young adults the skills they need to get hired.
- A strong economy creates jobs for everyone, including young people.
- Public education needs to be restructured to meet workforce training needs.
- A training wage combined with a time limit is a good idea.
- Business needs to be involved in the government's current workforce training system.
More than 2,300 people took part in the survey between May 3 and June 17. Many of them were members of AWB, one of several partner organizations involved in the effort.
The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into the reasons why young adult employment rates have been in decline for more than a decade, and to discuss possible solutions.
It posed 10 questions, including asking people to describe what's gained from the experience of holding a first time or entry-level job, why they believe young adult employment is on the decline and to name the single-best approach to solving the problem.
Older, higher skilled workers competing for lower skilled jobs was the No. 1 cause listed by respondents. Think "The Internship," a new movie about laid-off men in their 40s going to work at Google as interns.
Nearly a third of respondents cited more restrictive government regulation about when, where and how long young people can work.
The answers don't necessarily offer any immediate solutions, but they suggest places to start: Focus on rebuilding the economy in general. Look for public-private partnerships. Increase funding for vocational and technical curriculum.
Hopefully, a future generation of journalists and screenwriters will be inventing new terms to describe successful, employed young people.
The full report is available online.