WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and David Perdue (R-GA) formally introduced — along with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — The Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2019 (S. 3144) today in the U.S. Senate. The legislation will support out-of-school time programs that build knowledge, skills, and learning experiences that will help youth prepare for the 21st century workforce and boost their economic potential over a lifetime. The new bill will fill a gap that exists in policy today, supporting skill building programs in early childhood development through job placement.
"I hear from young people about their hopes for the future, which include contributing to their communities and getting good jobs. And I hear from employers that they need help getting connected to great employees. That's where afterschool and out-of-school time providers can play a role in helping young people gain skills and make connections to mentors, opportunities and local employers," said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. "Our bipartisan bill would help support youth success for years to come by exposing young people to the varied ways they can participate in the workforce."
A great future does not happen if young people cannot get a job, and today, youth face many challenges around planning for and entering their future careers. There are 4.5 million young people who aren't in school and don't have a job. Young people increasingly feel ill prepared for work, lacking the necessary skills and confidence to prosper on the job. In fact, more than 75% of youth express concerns about whether they have the skills necessary to secure a job. Essential skill development such as communication and critical thinking skills, and exposure to different careers are critical to being successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow. By expanding the reach and scope of youth development programs that already are helping more than 10 million school-age children and teens, programs can support and build a diverse and skilled workforce that is ready to contribute and strengthen the country's economy.
"Currently, there are 7.3 million job openings and only 5.8 million people looking for work," said David Senator Perdue. "It is important that we invest in the future of America's workforce by giving children the skills they need to succeed. This bipartisan effort with the Boys & Girls Club and other youth organizations will support the development of out-of-school programs that are focused on preparing our youth to pursue the career of their choice. I'm proud Boys & Girls Clubs of America calls Georgia home, and I share their commitment to helping kids and teens reach their full potential."
"We can see what the future looks like by how we set up our kids and teens for success today. But to solve these challenges as a nation, we must start by investing in young people early. The Youth Workforce Readiness Act recognizes the time kids spend after-school and during the summer, to develop these skills, as critical for ensuring equity for all young people," said Jim Clark, president and CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Smith, Perdue, Wyden and Graham to address the needs of our country and future generations to ensure economic prosperity. By supporting out-of-school time youth development organizations, we can close the opportunity gap that exists for so many kids and teens today."
The bill establishes a competitive grant through the U.S. Department of Labor to support youth-serving, out-of-school time organizations providing programs focused on four overarching pillars of youth workforce readiness:
Essential-Skill Development: supporting social emotional development through every developmental stage in both formal and informal learning experiences.
Career Exposure: targeted programming through community business partnerships, providing discovery opportunities, career assessments, planning, and insights into both traditional and non- traditional career fields.
Employability & Certification: opportunities including interviewing, resume writing, financial literacy and certifications in specific areas that will help youth land their first job.
Work-Based Learning: opportunities to apply skills in real-life, hands-on work experiences through local community business partnerships.
"The number one thing we hear from our Teen Club members throughout Georgia is their desire for workforce-based programming that can give them the skills and experiences needed to succeed in their career," said Missy Dugan, CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. "Programs like ours help young people develop and practice necessary skills that will propel them into their future. We are thankful for the leadership of Sen. Perdue for his constant support of successful futures not just for today's kids but tomorrow's as well."
"The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities thanks Senator Smith for her commitment to changing the lives and future opportunities for the youth in our state and around the country," said Terryl Brumm, CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. "This bill is an investment in a transformational and effective program model that will support achievement of essential skill-building starting at an early age when we at Boys & Girls Clubs know we can make a difference. We've seen firsthand that providing a safe environment where young people are engaged and challenged to build and practice essential skills ensures that they can reach their full potential and are well prepared to enter the workforce strengthening the economy today and into the future."
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (bgca.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, nearly 4,600 Clubs serve 4.7 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org or on Facebook and Twitter.