A Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Wednesday said 745,000 more job seekers between 16 and 24 years old were unemployed from April to July. That compares with an increase of 571,000 among the same age group last summer.
In July, the share of young people who were employed was 48.8%, marking a record low for the second straight year. July is traditionally the peak month for summertime employment. Another Summer Chill for Youth Employment- USAToday, August 24th 2011
If I do the math correctly this means 51.2% of Americans between the ages of 16-24 don’t have a job. Half of people 16-24, when they are physically strongest and most able to work… can’t find a job.
You can’t care about the youth of America and not wonder what you can do. You individually. You as a leader in the church. And you as an advocate for the young adults in your community.
You can do something. You have to do something.
We live in a post-Christian society. Young adults have heard of the church. They likely know who Jesus is. But, in many cases, they won’t have anything to do with Jesus or the church because both seem irrelevant. In short, before they are willing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ they need to know that the Gospel really is good news for them. If you can help them find employment– that’s good news.
Here’s 5 ways you can be Good News to unemployed youth in your community
- Start a childcare fund for single parents in your church struggling financially. One of the biggest challenges a single parent faces is consistent and affordable childcare. (Affordable doesn’t mean free.) If you set up a fund to employ 3-4 people through your church to either watch children in their homes or to set-up a 10 small daycare facility in your church, you’d be surprised how easy funding could come together. This would help single parents and it would help the young adults you’d hire to run the program. (There’s Federal/State grant money available for this kind of thing as well. Ask a librarian for help.)
- Sponsor a local grant for small businesses in your community to offset the cost of hiring part-time help between the ages of 16-24. One of the best motivators you could offer to small business owners in your community is a grant to offset some of the costs of employing a person. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce to help get the word out, pitch the concept to business people in your church, and ask your congregation to rally behind the fund. Keep it simple. If a small business hires a qualifying young adult, you verify that they worked 500 hours, you award the employer $2,000.
- Host job readiness seminars in your church. While the unemployment rate is shocking, equally shocking is the amount of young adults who are unemployable. Partner with Junior Achievement, the Chamber, and other like-minded local community organizations to put together a series of helpful seminars for job readiness. Teach the basics like, interview skills, resume` building, work expectations, etc. (Again, there’s grant money out there for this kind of thing.)
- Hire someone in your home. We’ve just completed our second summer of having a regular, summer babysitter. Last summer we hired someone full-time who also lived in our home. We found that was a bit too much for us, so this summer we “shared” a full-time babysitter with another family in our church. No, we couldn’t afford it. But this sacrifice was worth it– and helped us out a ton. Maybe you don’t need childcare? Hire someone to do yard work or complete the projects around the house you’ve wanted to do but can’t find the time.
- Start a job pool. A church is a great connecting point. If you acted as a connecting point between people looking for work and people who need work done, you could help a lot of people. More than simply having a job board… Set-up a simple screening process, set work expectations like timeliness and appearance, and coordinated both supervision and payment between people in the community who need work done and young adults looking to do work. If that’s too much work for your staff to handle ask a business person in the congregation or members of the local Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a 10 hour per week position from May – September to coordinate.