What is Youth Employment?
Youth employment programs include paid and stipended after school, weekend, or summer jobs and training and job placement services for youth between the ages of 14-21. The Coalition primarily focuses its advocacy efforts on three different issues in this area:
- Ensuring the future of the summer Youth Employment Program (YEP), through its coordination of the Campaign for Summer Jobs with United Neighborhood Houses; and
- New York City's development and proper implementation of the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs.
- The successful implementation of the NYCWorks workforce development initiative, a joint project of the City Council and the United Way of New York City
The Campaign for Summer Jobs: A Grassroots Organizing Effort to Save YEP
By late 1999, it had become clear that the looming implementation of the new federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) presented New York City and communities across the country with sweeping new mandates that would drive an extensive restructuring of youth and adult employment services.
WIA replaced the former Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) program in July 2000 and changed the way the federal government funds employment and training services for youth and adults. Under WIA, employment and training funds are allocated in the form of a block grant, and with respect to youth employment, emphasizes year-round services, including counseling and follow-up services, for both in-school and out-of-school youth. The net result is that funding for the stand-alone youth summer jobs program has been effectively eliminated. While in New York City, some 50,000 teens had previously enjoyed federally subsidized summer jobs each year under JTPA, only 15 percent of these jobs would be funded under WIA.
Realizing the potentially disastrous impacts that this loss of summer jobs would have on communities, the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition and United Neighborhood Houses jointly launched the Campaign for Summer Jobs. The Campaign's mission was to establish a permanent source of funding that would once again create a New York summer jobs program. After successful Campaign efforts secured funding for the Summer 2000 and the Summer 2001 program from both New York State and City governments, the Campaign for Summer Jobs refocused its efforts in December 2001 to ensure the continuation of a comprehensive summer youth employment program for the summer of 2002 and beyond. Growing to include more than eighty organizations by 2002, the Campaign for Summer Jobs has successfully focused the attention of the media, elected and appointed officials, and concerned New Yorkers in communities throughout the City and the State on the impending loss of summer jobs.
The Need for Summer Jobs
Quick Facts About YEP
Timeline of the Campaign's Activities
The Future of Summer Jobs
Surveys and Reports
Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, which went into effect in July of 2000, was designed to encourage the development of a highly skilled workforce. To this end, it seeks to provide employment and training services to three target populations: adults, dislocated workers, and low-income youth, both in school and out of school, who face barriers to employment.
With respect to its youth component, WIA dictates that municipalities allocate 70% of WIA dollars to In School Youth programs and 30% to Out-of-School Youth programs, provide youth with year-round counseling and other follow-up services, and allocate 15% of funding to administrative costs. Under WIA, summer youth employment is no longer a stand-alone program, but rather one of ten options localities can offer young people enrolled in the year-round WIA program.
The New York City WIA youth initiative, administered through the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) since 2003, is currently the nation's largest WIA-funded youth program. DYCD monitors providers through on-site program visits, fiscal reviews and desk audits; evaluates data, systems, policies, and procedures; and provides technical assistance when necessary. The agency also reviews central accounting data on a monthly basis to ensure compliance with established fiscal procedures.
DYCD recently released a Request for Proposals for a new cycle of WIA-funded youth employment programs, which will feature an increased focus on educational outcomes. Through this RFP, DYCD seeks to enlist qualified organizations to run effective and innovative OSY and ISY workforce development programs that increase the career awareness, educational attainment, and labor force preparation, participation, and retention of at-risk youth. Successful programs will include the following four elements:
School to Career: Programs will combine an academic and employment focus, encouraging youth to remain in high school and graduate or if necessary, to obtain a GED, and go on to pursue post-secondary education or training. In addition, programs will obtain employer input when designing their vocational training content and enlist employers to expose youth to career opportunities.
Targeted Employment Opportunities and Partnerships: Programs should engage employment sectors that provide strong opportunities for youth, and establish partnerships with training providers, schools, and businesses. DYCD is specifically targeting the health, retail, customer service, construction, and hospitality and tourism sectors.
Youth Development: Programs will incorporate youth development principles. Successful programs will work from a strengths-based approach, deliver personalized services, feature positive relationships between youth and adult staff, and offer supportive and follow-up services to address the range of issues participants face.
Comprehensive Services: Successful programs will provide all services in-house or provide easy access to other qualified providers. To this end, DYCD encourages applicants to supplement WIA funds with additional cash or in-kind contributions.
It is anticipated that Out-of-School Youth programs will serve 1,200 participants and In-School Youth programs will serve 7,000 youth. WIA funding for both components is $27.8 million.
How WIA Differs from the Summer Jobs Program
NYCWorks is an initiative of the New York City Council, administered by the United Way of New York City, which seeks to enlist qualified community based organizations to provide education, job training, and job placement and retention services to unemployed and underemployed adults and older youth, focusing on populations and communities most in need. Recognizing that the nature of work opportunities in today's economy, as well as the skills needed to perform them, are changing, and that many workforce development programs are constrained by requirements imposed by federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding, the initiative aims to build capacity among nonprofit providers to enhance existing programs and/or develop new initiatives designed to strengthen workforce training, education, placement, and retention services. The initiative is intended to accomplish two primary goals: 1.) To ensure that chronically unemployed and underemployed adults and out of school youth gain and retain employment, or are prepared to establish or maintain an entrepreneurial venture, through the acquisition of both hard and soft skills; and 2.) To build and strengthen New York City's infrastructure of innovative, high quality, and targeted employment and placement programs.