Building Pathways to Postsecondary Success for Low-Income Young Men of Color

Nov 30, 2010

Linda Harris, director of youth policy, and Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield, senior policy analyst, co-authored a chapter in the recently published book Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color. The book "draws attention to the urgent need-both economic and moral-to better understand the policy and community-based factors that serve as opportunities or barriers for young men and boys of color as they make critical life decisions."

Ms. Harris and Ms. Duke-Benfield's chapter examines why it is essential to invest in access to postsecondary education opportunities for young men of color and to ensure their success. Following is an excerpt from the chapter introduction.

Many of the millions of young men of color who have dropped out of school have the talent, ability, and aspirations for a better future and can benefit from being connected to a supported pathway to postsecondary credentials. This tremendous pool of talent and potential, if properly supported and channeled, can help close the skills gap in the United States and greatly contribute to the nation's productivity and competitiveness.

However, converting this raw talent into skilled workers with the credentials and mastery for the twenty-first-century economy will require considerable rethinking of how our secondary, postsecondary, workforce, adult education, youth development, and youth recovery systems work in tandem to build the supports and create the pathways at some scale to bring these youth back into the education and labor-market mainstream.

For many young men of color, particularly those residing in communities of concentrated poverty, finding and retaining work is a considerable challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January 2010 only 28 percent of black men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four were working, compared with 43 percent of Hispanic men and 44 percent of white men in the same age category (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010b). The percentage of young men working across all racial groups has declined dramatically in less than a decade. In 2002, 41 percent of black men, 78 percent of Hispanic men, and 60 percent of white men ages sixteen to twenty-four were working (U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2002).

While the expectation isn't that all youth should be employed, the precipitous decline in youth employment in general, the dramatic decline in employment rates for young Hispanic men, and the persistently high level of joblessness for young black men is cause for concern and reason for action. READ MORE>>

 

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