Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Congress Must Bolster Youth Employment Programs To Secure America’s Economic Future
Press Release

RELEASE: Congress Must Bolster Youth Employment Programs To Secure America’s Economic Future

Washington, D.C. — Youth employment programs have the opportunity to help millions of young people gain the skills and resources they need to build their careers. Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report urging Congress to create dedicated funding streams in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to expand its investment in subsidized youth programs to set the next generation of workers up for a successful future. 

WIOA primarily serves the most vulnerable young people, including those 16 to 24 years old who are not currently working or in school, often referred to as “opportunity youth” or “disconnected youth.” In 2021, 4.7 million young people were considered opportunity youth, emphasizing structural problems in the workforce and education systems that won’t go away on their own. This report examines how WIOA can help diminish barriers for disadvantaged youth and has the opportunity to advance racial equity, increase wages for young people, and decrease interactions with the criminal legal system with the proper investments in youth employment programs. The report outlines in detail key actions Congress can take to strengthen youth employment: 

  • Creating dedicated federal funding streams to subsidize wages of summer and year-round employment programs 
  • Dedicating additional funds specifically to supportive services and outreach efforts in order to connect more young people with the resources they need to thrive 

“WIOA offers the opportunity to equip the next generation of workers with the resources, training, and opportunities they need to thrive in the U.S. economy, without leaving anyone behind,” said Kyle Ross, research associate for Inclusive Economy at CAP and author of the report. “Dedicating federal funding will be essential to ensure that WIOA can expand its reach to even more young people to set them up on successful career paths and strengthen our economy.”

Read the report: “Congress Must Bolster Youth Employment Programs To Secure America’s Economic Future” by Kyle Ross

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected].

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