Training and Development at Both Ends of the Workforce Continuum: Opportunities and Recommended Actions

Jerry W. Hedge and Jay Feldman
RTI International
Resource Type: 
Publication Date: 
Aug, 2015

In the United States, the youth unemployment rate was more than 14% in July 2014, and has been in double-digits for the last 7 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). During recessions and in weak job markets, youths are usually the first to be fired and the last to be hired. Subsequently, they tend to stay in school longer and experience a significant drop in labor force participation rate. Currently, these difficulties are likely to persist for youths aged 16 to 24 as they face increased competition from other age groups for the entry-level jobs they traditionally would fill. More than 3 million in this age group are unemployed, and many more have dropped out of the labor force altogether. In addition, there are a rising number of young people who are neither in the labor market nor in school (Jacobs, 2014).

For the most part, what separates the youths who can secure employment from those who cannot is training and work experience. Traditional academic-oriented education and training often do not adequately equip youths with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. In fact, despite an increase in advanced degree attainment by Americans over the past 10 years, companies often struggle to find employees with the diversity and quality of skills and abilities necessary for success in a constantly evolving marketplace (ACT Foundation, 2014). For example, a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM Foundation, 2014) found that although a large percentage of education providers (74%) reported confidence that their graduates’ educations had prepared them well for work, only a minority of youths and employers (38% and 35%, respectively) agreed.

Workforce Development
Middle East & North Africa
North America
Sub-Saharan Africa