Illinois continues to grapple with a stubbornly high youth unemployment rate. With over 14 percent of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 without a job, Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Fortunately, the state is moving common sense solutions that are win-win for the next generation and the economy. This summer, the Illinois Department of Commerce is launching apprenticeship pilot programs. These programs will allow young adults to receive on-the-job training and classroom instruction that provides participants the high-demand skills they need to excel in fields that are hiring, sectors like healthcare and manufacturing.
Before launching these programs, the Illinois Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth had Young Invincibles host three roundtables across the state to gather feedback on how the state should design youth apprenticeships. The events in Hillside, Mt. Vernon, and Peoria reached over 125 young adults and service providers supporting young adults. We heard overwhelming interest in this work-based training model. At the same time, participants highlighted critical barriers that could prevent young people from underserved communities from benefiting from work-based training programs, things like being unprepared for youth apprenticeship opportunities, being intimidated by the opportunity, and outreach failing to reach or inspire young adults.
Young Invincibles’ Midwest Director, Erin Steva, released the following statement as the office releases a report with community-informed recommendations on how to overcome these barriers:
“Apprenticeships are a powerful tool for putting careers within reach for young adults, allowing young adults first-hand experience with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. We applaud the state’s efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities across the state and our report provides guidance on how to ensure young adults from underserved communities benefit from this work-based training program.”