Across the country a lot of attention is being given to a group of young adults referred to as “disconnected” or “opportunity” youth. These are young adults between the ages of 16-24 who are neither in school nor employed.
A study by the Annie E Casey Foundation in 2013 reported that this age group has the worst employment statistics since World War II. In addition, the same study indicates that 21 percent of them are young parents who must take care of their own needs and those of their children.
Most of these young adults have not completed high school, and if they have, often lack the academic skills necessary to access post-secondary training. Many are justice involved; recent data from the Kent County Jail identifies that the number of inmates under the age of 25 at any given time is approximately 30%. Add to this a lack of positive life experiences and role models, and the path to well-being and economic security can seem daunting. AND YET, local employers have made it clear that a genuine talent shortage exists.