Bill supports out-of-school time programs that develop youth career skills and opportunities.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — along with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — and Reps. Josh Harder (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) — along with Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Lisa McClain(R-MI) — formally introduced The Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2021 (S. 1696/H.R. 3342) today. The legislation will support out-of-school time programs that build knowledge, skills, and enable learning experiences that will help youth prepare for the 21st century workforce and boost their economic potential over a lifetime. The bill addresses inequities that have become even more prevalent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — addressing the skills gap and supporting skill building programs and career experiences and opportunities starting at an earlier age through job placement.
“I hear from young people about their hopes for the future, which include contributing to their communities and getting good jobs. And I hear from employers that they need help getting connected to great employees. That’s where afterschool and out-of-school time providers can play a role in helping young people gain skills and make connections to mentors, opportunities and local employers,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “My bipartisan bill would help support youth success by teaching young people about different career paths and workforce readiness skills.”
Due to the ongoing pandemic, young people face an ever-changing labor market and an uncertain educational outlook. Research estimates that in a matter of months, COVID-19 has erased ten years’ progress in reducing the national youth disconnection rate with now over 4.4 million young people (ages 16-24) neither working or in school. Afterschool and Summer learning programs like the ones offered at Boys & Girls Clubs will be critical as youth-serving providers aim to make up for significant learning losses, skills building and the social emotional development impact caused by the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, 75% of youth expressed concerns over whether they would have the necessary skills and confidence to prosper at a job. By expanding the reach and scope of youth development programs that impact more than 10 million school-age children and teens, programs can support and build a diverse and skilled workforce that is ready to contribute and strengthen the country’s economy.
"Preparing our kids to successfully contribute to our economy helps keep America strong,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “A well-educated, well-trained workforce is a key component to future economic development. This legislation is great news for South Carolina and an important investment in the future of our nation.”
"The pandemic has widened the education and skills gap experienced by too many of our country’s young people, especially our students of color. If we are to not only respond but fully recover, further investments must be made in workforce development and emotional wellness programs that prepare our young people for the future today," said Jim Clark, president and CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “The Youth Workforce Readiness Act recognizes the time kids spend afterschool and during the summer, to develop these skills, as critical for ensuring equity for all young people. We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Smith, Graham, Wyden and Collins to address the challenges facing kids and teens and giving them the tools they need to achieve great futures.”
“Investing in our kids is a no-brainer. This bill will make sure our kids learn the skills they need for long and successful careers,” said Rep. Harder. “As we rebuild from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we get our kids ready for their futures, and that means making sure they’re learning both in and out of the classroom.”
"Setting our country's kids up for success requires investment in career development and education at a young age," said Fitzpatrick. "I am proud to work with Congressman Harder and partner with the Boys & Girls Club of America, a truly remarkable organization, to find bipartisan solutions like the Youth Workforce Readiness Act that give American kids the tools to accomplish great things."
The bill establishes a competitive grant through the U.S. Department of Labor to support youth-serving, out-of-school time organizations providing programs focused on four overarching pillars of youth workforce readiness:
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. More than 4,700 Clubs serve 4.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in Boys & Girls Clubs of America-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook or Twitter.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America