Youth have been hard hit by the windfall of job losses due to the COVID-19 economic downturn. The state reported that from mid-March to April 25, youth between the ages of 16 to 24 made up 53.3 percent of all unemployment claims. This hardship is felt more acutely by foster youth, youth experiencing homelessness, our LGBTQI and youth of color. To ensure that youth from low-income households can prepare for real-world jobs, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, directing pertinent County departments to identify up to $20.7 million in the supplemental budget to continue current levels of funding for Youth@Work.
“As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I have worked to make sure that youth can develop the work skills they need to successfully transition into adulthood and careers,” said Supervisor Solis. “Through L.A. County’s Youth@Work jobs program, our youth will gain confidence by accumulating workplace experiences that will put them on a path to success. While this year’s program will look different due to COVID-19, our dedication in offering these important opportunities remains as strong as ever.”
The Urban Institute recently demonstrated the impact COVID-19 has had on young people, finding that 57.4 percent of those between the ages of 18 to 22 said their families have lost jobs, work hours or income, compared to 35.4 percent of those between the ages of 54 to 64.
“The Youth@Work program equips and empowers teens in our communities who are most at-risk of falling through the cracks,” Supervisor Barger said. “Even as we battle the current public health crisis, L.A. County remains committed to provide youth with educational and employment opportunities to bolster their skills, increase their confidence, and propel them toward career success. Especially now, L.A. County communities will be strengthened by the innovation, creativity, and determination of our youth.”
Each year, the County’s Youth@Work program helps nearly 10,000 vulnerable youth land work experiences that lead them to entry-level jobs. Youth@Work prioritizes youth who dropped out of school, are struggling to stay in school, and those who may have graduated, but do not have a job and are not enrolled in any classes.
This year, the Youth@Work jobs program will include a virtual component for those who cannot physically show up at a worksite. In addition, participating youth may be trained to serve as contact tracers, may assist at food distribution events, and may be assigned to help small businesses fulfill COVID-19 compliant requirements for re-opening.
Today’s motion instructs pertinent County departments to report back in the 2020-21 supplemental budget a funding plan that will sustain the Youth@Work program. In addition, the County must identify work learning opportunities within departments so youth can assist in COVID-19 related programs while wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing. Lastly, the motion also requires a 30-day report back on how departments plan to carry out this COVID-19 response effort.
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