A new report released today by the three Workforce Development Boards that serve the Portland-SW Washington region finds nearly 30,000 youth ages 16 to 24 are not in school or working (referred to as opportunity youth). Despite a strong regional economy, in which nearly 71,000 jobs were added between 2014 and 2016, the share and number of opportunity youth in the region remained stagnant since the last report in 2016.
The report, commissioned by Worksystems, Clackamas Workforce Partnership and Workforce Southwest Washington, identifies key demographic information and barriers faced by these young people and assists us in designing programs and services to address their needs and challenges. A few characteristics of the region’s opportunity youth include:
- Opportunity youth are becoming more diverse. In 2014, 30% were youth of color and that share has risen to 42%.
- Despite representing just 6% of the opportunity youth in the region, 24% of all opportunity youth are black.
- The percentage of Hispanic opportunity youth rose from 15% to 27%
- 6 in 10 opportunity youth did not work at all in 2016.
- Roughly 3,700 or 24% of opportunity youth females lived with their own children in 2016.
Knowing who may be falling through the cracks enables us to create innovative strategies to serve these youth and reconnect them to post-secondary education and/or career track employment. Our signature programs such as SummerWorks, a youth work experience and work readiness training program, and Connect2Careers, a job matching portal to help area youth connect to local opportunities, are making a difference.
The news release and full report can be downloaded below.