It’s estimated that 40,000 young people in the St. Louis region are not in school and not working. Experts say the youth unemployment rate and the skills gap mean a shortage of skilled workers now and in the future.
STL Youth Jobs is in its third year of trying to meet that challenge head on. With more applicants that it can handle, the program is a a collaboration of St. Louis city and county, the state of Missouri, local companies, and private donors. STL Youth Jobs pairs 16 to 24 year olds with a job coach and an employer who teach marketable job skills. More than 115 local companies are providing eight week summer jobs to young people.
Teens growing up in poverty have to deal with poor academic achievement, violence and much more.
A new initiative by MERS/Goodwill and Emerson works to show them that a tough upbringing doesn’t have to mean a hard life. They’re helping kids in troubled neighborhoods find jobs.
“I basically do everything for my kids,” said program participant Kaylia Hamilton.
Kaylia is a participant in the STL Youth Jobs Initiative Program. The program helps teens from troubled communities receive job training and job placement.
For youth development professionals and communities, summer — and really any time where youth are disconnected — represents either opportunity or danger. We must rally to ensure the right gaps are addressed and opportunities are in place. We must collaborate to collectively address the needs that no single organization could.
Take, for example, STL Youth Jobs in St. Louis. This collaboration emerged in 2012 from the inspiration of funders, nonprofits, business and civic leaders, who launched STL Youth Jobs as a creative, cross-sector solution ensuring that youth have access to employment, are equipped to handle finances and build skills critical to future employment.
More than 200 teens were employed that summer. They reported increased work motivation and ability to manage and save their earnings. More than 90 percent increased their work skills and gained confidence, and 60 percent are still working.