What’s Our Plan for Including Young Adults in Economic Recovery?
On June 24, the American Youth Policy Forum hosted Connecting Youth to Jobs, During and After the Pandemic, the second in a series of briefings focused on the needs of young adults. As Congress considers legislation to spark economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, AYPF is educating stakeholders–from young people to policymakers–on policies that will ensure an equitable recovery.
The briefing also served as the closing plenary for the National Youth Employment Coalition’s All Youth Connecting Forum, which brought together more than 300 practitioners, system leaders, and young adults from around the country. Over 100 people attended the briefing.
Sedona Allen, Youth Advisor
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
As is customary at plenary sessions for NYEC convenings, the session began with a performance by a young person. Sedona shared an original spoken-word piece. (Follow her work @RevolutionarySedona on Instagram or https://sedonasrevolution.wordpress.com/.)
Kevin Hickey, Chief Program Officer
New Door Ventures, San Francisco
Kevin has worked directly with young people for many years in San Francisco. He began a panel discussion with a call for practitioners to embrace their “advocacy identity.” As he noted, practitioners have the expertise that policymakers need to make good decisions – but they need to cultivate their own expertise in the practice of advocacy. They also need to confront the emotions that serve as barriers to getting involved in advocacy – inertia, apathy, and self-doubt – and embrace emotions that catalyze advocacy – urgency, anger, and passion.
Angela Hanks, Counselor
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
Angela previously worked on Capitol Hill and in the nonprofit sector on workforce-development matters. She reported that her colleagues in the Biden Administration are “feeling the urgency” to support an equitable recovery and that “just getting back to where we were is not good enough.”
In discussion with other panelists and response to questions from attendees, she described learning the lessons of the Great Recession: “the recovery package was too small.” In constructing the American Jobs Plan, the Administration wanted to build on strategies that work, including subsidized employment, violence interrupters, and getting more people with disabilities into competitive, integrated employment by ending section 14(c) subminimum wage programs. She drew attention to the proposed $50 million National Youth Employment Program in the President’s budget request for the Department of Labor as a return to a federal role in supporting summer jobs for young people.
Naomi Lake, Legislative Assistant
Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL)
Rep. Garcia’s district covers pieces of the North, West, and South sides of Chicago, as well as suburban Cook County. The district has been the site of decades of disinvestment in social services and has more recently seen a rise in gun violence.
Rep. Garcia recently introduced the Connecting Youth to Jobs Act (HR 3246), which would create a subsidized employment focused on young people. Naomi noted that Rep. Garcia’s interest in the bill is to reverse the “generational disinvestment” that has occurred in his district and other areas around the country. Creating employment opportunities through a subsidized employment program, coupled with appropriate wraparound supports, is a top priority for him. Naomi hopes to identify a senator to introduce a companion bill in that chamber.
RESOURCES REFERENCED IN THE BRIEFING:
- CLASP’s landing page for subsidized employment
- Angela Hanks, writing in 2018 on the “skills gap myth”
- The opportunity youth community’s April 2020 COVID recommendations called for a big national subsidized employment program
- The Better Employment and Training Strategies group’s youth-focused recommendations envision a rescue, recover, reimagine framework for thinking about federal policy related to transition-age youth
- Joining the National Youth Employment Coalition supports convenings like the All Youth Connecting Forum, of which this briefing was a part
The Economic Recovery for Young Adults Series is hosted by the American Youth Policy Forum, in partnership with the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, The Corps Network, the Forum for Youth Investment, Heartland Alliance, Jobs for the Future, the National Network for Youth, the National Youth Employment Coalition, Opportunity Youth United, and the Reconnecting Youth Campaign.