In the United States today, many companies are in a “talent war,” struggling to find skilled workers to fill entry- to advance-level positions. At the same time 5.8 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are not in school and not working—a population the size of Maryland or Wisconsin (and larger than 30 other states). This demographic is often referred to as “opportunity youth,” and the disconnect between employers and this uncultivated talent is widening the talent divide.
We started this journey with the 100K Opportunities Initiative to help open the door to career pathways for the 5.6 million Americans between the ages 16-24 that are unemployed and not in school, this population is also known as “opportunity youth” and there are more than 150,000 of these promising young adults in Chicago alone.
What does it mean to be an inclusive economy? This question was at the core of our inaugural Future at Work Coalition meeting and Community Open Forum last Tuesday. For the more than 30 thought leaders from different sectors that joined our call to action to end the youth unemployment and the talent-divide crisis, the answer became clear- we can no longer afford to miss the mark in harnessing the talent and skilling up of ALL Americans.
The future of work is changing and sparking a shift in our approach to cultivating, recruiting and retaining talent to meet bottom-line demands and sustain local economies. Throughout the U.S. the need for talent has become more pronounced with 53% of businesses citing that their ability to find and keep the right employees directly impacts their success, and over 40% of employers reporting difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of qualified applicants. It is clear that workforce systems that served the talent needs of the past must be reignited as talent development engines to meet the business realities of our 21st Century economy.
Today I had the honor of representing LeadersUp as Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe stood before fellow board supervisors, community members and advocates to declare February as LeadersUp month throughout LA county. As I joined LeadersUp team members and Board Chair and chief community officer at Starbucks Blair Taylor to share remarks for this incredible distinction, I was filled with a sense of deep gratitude and responsibility.