Conversations with Young People: Employment during COVID-19
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk. They’re often the first to be let go, the last to be hired, and major employers of young people—including the food service and hospitality industries—are significantly impacted by the pandemic. The YES Project has been speaking with young people representing various stages of education and employment to learn firsthand about their job experiences during COVID-19 and their advice for how decision makers can support them at this unprecedented time.
The current state of youth (un)employment speaks for itself: 1.8 million young Americans (ages 16-24) want to work, are actively searching, yet still can’t find a job.
Beyond these alarming numbers, youth employment matters:
- It strengthens young people’s confidence and ties to the labor market;
- Sets young individuals on a secure and fulfilling career pathway; and
- Adds a broader pool of talent to the workforce and boosts the economy.
That’s why the YES (Young, Employed, Successful) Project, a national initiative launched by America’s Promise Alliance, was created to support and grow our youth workforce so that every young person seeking a job can find a job.
To tackle this ambitious goal, the YES Project teamed up with nonprofits, researchers, and employers and landed on three conditions for success: ready, connected, and supported (RCS). The RCS framework is the backbone of the YES Project and serves as a consensus point for everyone– from public officials, community leaders and young people themselves – to drive action towards increasing youth employment.
The YES project is driven by these three activities:
Ready, Connected, Supported Framework
Ready, Connected, and Supported is the guiding force behind the YES Project, uniting all stakeholders behind this shared vision to help young people achieve workplace success and career development.
Finding a Way Forward
How do young people become ready for, connected to, and supported in the world of work? New qualitative research yields important and timely insights from young people themselves.
Action Round Table
Communities across the country are putting the ready, connected, and supported framework into action. Check out what’s happening in these four communities to help young people gain meaningful employment
The State of Youth Employment
Check out results from our latest quantitative study, exploring how young people are navigating the world of work during this challenging time, how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped their work experiences, the role of racism and discrimination in young people’s career trajectories, and more.
Four Opportunity Youth Forum Communities were selected to join the YES Project’s Action Roundtable cohort. Action Roundtables consist of communities working to improve youth employment outcomes by convening diverse stakeholders and moving them towards action. Cohort members contribute to existing youth employment systems, assist with youth job placement, and/or create pathways for youth employment.
To learn more about the Action Roundtables, check as out our key takeaways document below that touches on key themes of the gatherings to enhance collective understanding about what it takes for communities to work together to connect young people to employment opportunities. Below, you'll also find APA's own Fito Akinrade's blog about her experience with each of the communities. These lessons will inform the YES Project’s ongoing work, including its second series of Action Roundtables with new grantees.
- The Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative
- Thrive Chicago
- Capital Workforce Partners
- Ancestral Lands Hopi Program