Originally posted on Andrus Family Fund's blog on February 5, 2016.
In our last blog post, we identified the skills gap that contributes to America’s double digit youth unemployment rate. We also saw how grantee partner LeadersUp is closing the skills gap and connecting opportunity youth with career pathways. However, addressing skills alone cannot solve the workforce inequities we see today. While the Nation’s unemployment rate has improved, recent data shows that the unemployment rate for African American youth under the age of 20 is significantly higher than their white counterparts. Therefore, we believe a focus on racial equity must be part of the solution as well.
"By addressing racial justice, we’re creating a more fair, just and inclusive economy.”—Monique Miles, Director of Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, and Deputy Director of Aspen Forum for Community Solutions
In less than 30 years, the demographics of our country are expected to shift. For the first time in our nation’s history, people of color will make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. population. This unprecedented change will coincide with the retirement of millions of baby boomers, most of which are white. This “graying of America” will result in more employment opportunities available to an increasingly diverse next generation of workers. However, to make progress on reducing workforce inequity, we must ensure these opportunities are equally accessible to people of color.
For too long, these opportunities have not been equally accessible. Some groups, particularly young men of color, face additional barriers to entering the workforce. They are disproportionately affected by unjust systems that, we believe, harm more than help. These young men are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school, being involved with the criminal justice system and, ultimately, unemployment.
“If we don’t address systemic inequities and ensure all youth are ready to work, we’ll never be economically or culturally competitive with the rest of the world.”—Thaddeus Ferber, Vice President of Policy Advocacy of Forum for Youth Investment
We are committed to creating a more equitable society. A focus on equity not only aligns with our values, but we believe also creates a more competitive economy. Data from the National Equity Atlas shows us that a racially inclusive economy can lead to substantial GDP growth—more than $2 trillion per year. So it is important for us to support organizations like the Forum for Youth Investment and Jobs for the Future, which are working both individually and with others to create inclusive, fair and sustainable workforce solutions. Both are key contributors to the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, a cross-sector collaboration of nonprofits, businesses, philanthropy and government agencies that have come together to address the Nation’s biggest challenges—such as creating racial equity in the workforce and expanding career pathways for young men of color.
We must work aggressively to change trajectories for people of color who have not had access to the opportunities they need to build wealth and advance in our economy.”—Mamadou Ndiaye, Associate Director of Jobs for the Future
The following examples highlight how they partner with the Aspen Forum to address some of these barriers in the workforce.