Youth in Baltimore — where more than 20 percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school nor working — face obstacles in pursuing meaningful careers, including inadequate information about opportunities and a lack of support, a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds.
Based on focus groups conducted by community leaders with young people from around the city, the report, Reshaping Workforce Development in Baltimore (24 pages, PDF), found that young people in Baltimore want to work for a variety of reasons, from saving for college to taking on their family's financial responsibilities; that they understand the long-term benefits of education but face immediate financial needs; that they are interested in a wide range of career fields, from cosmetology to cybersecurity; and that they are interested in entrepreneurship opportunities that allow them to build inclusive businesses that benefit their communities.
At the same time, youth interviewed for the report cited numerous barriers to employment in their career fields, including a shortage of information about good jobs and employment resources, unreliable phone and Internet service, discrimination, lack of transportation options, and unstable family environments. According to the report, many youth saw business ownership as a way to avoid dead-end jobs, but at the same time young entrepreneurs in the city, especially those of color, complained about a lack of access to affordable financing and technical assistance.
To address these issues, the report calls for the public and private sectors to do a better job of providing wraparound services, including housing, child care, transportation, and financial coaching; making training and placement resources for young people more accessible; investing in underresourced community centers and mentoring programs, with a focus on African-American and low-income youth; creating paid vocational programs; and ensuring that workforce development programs are tailored to industry demands.