Schuur: investing in youth employment

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Wendi schuur

As fall dawns, many teens and young adults have either returned to school or taken on their first full-time job, which means now is a great time for employers to reflect. the importance of supporting youth employment programs beyond the summer months.

When young people are linked to the job and the workforce experience, they learn to navigate the professional world and workplace dynamics, and employers develop the next generation of talent and provide a important path to economic opportunity and a stronger community. In fact, studies show that students who enter the workforce early are more likely to get better paying jobs later in life, which often motivates better financial literacy and an interest in saving and working. investment, leading to wealth creation and greater economic mobility.

But today, many young people seeking employment lack the access and resources they need. Not only have young workers experienced high spikes in unemployment during the pandemic, especially young people from communities of color, but there are new demands for early exposure to jobs, specialized training and job skills. Workforce. Many young people risk being left behind in a rapidly changing labor market if they do not gain experience and training in the labor market.

There is no doubt that the private sector can contribute to the opportunities, as we are well positioned to help tackle youth unemployment both within our own businesses as well as with other municipal and community programs. For example, Bank of America connected 6,500 young people to paid internships, paid training programs and employment opportunities this year alone. Since the launch of Student Leaders and a Youth Employment Initiative in Oklahoma City two years ago, the programs have provided internships and employment opportunities to 18 local youth, and the momentum continues. to develop oneself.

Recognizing the importance of a year-round approach to youth employment, the bank seeks to fund paid opportunities beyond the summer months alone. By partnering with organizations dealing with youth employment, including Urban League, NPower, Year Up and City Summer Jobs programs, we provide marketable career opportunities, while providing access to a variety of workforce experiences beyond our own industry.

I encourage others to consider investing in youth employment strategies throughout the year with a focus on functional skills, access to local professional opportunities, career growth and mentoring . In doing so, businesses will not only improve the lives of young people, but also help grow Oklahoma City’s economy, build a diverse talent pool of future professionals, and build the community we have. call home.

Wendi Schuur is market manager for Bank of America in Oklahoma City.


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