June 22-26, 2001



WHEREAS, the nation's next generation of workers is the rapidly growing youth population (ages 16 - 24) which is projected to grow by nearly 7 million by 2010; and

WHEREAS, this number of young people is 21 percent higher than the 1995 population for this age group with a majority of the growth being Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, over the past 20 years, despite the recent robust economy, earnings of young people have dropped 26 percent for males and 11 percent for females; and

WHEREAS, in 1999 only about one-half of the nation's youth who lack a high school diploma or a GED held a job; only a third were working full-time; only 1 in 6 were able to get a full-time job paying above the poverty level; and

WHEREAS, in 1999, this nation had 5.4 million 16 - 24 year old jobless high school graduates and dropouts, almost half of them poor and many homeless; and

WHEREAS, minority youth continue to experience difficulties in penetrating the labor market, disproportionate to their non-minority peers; and

WHEREAS, while it is important to raise academic standards for all students, the implementation of high-stakes testing tied to graduation threatens to increase the severity of an already critical situation in many urban school districts; and

WHEREAS, many urban school districts are already losing 50 percent or more of their entering 9th graders before graduation and, nationwide, nearly one quarter of the nation's students fail to graduate; and

WHEREAS, according to Confronting the Youth Demographic Challenge: the Labor Market Prospects of Out-of-school Young Adults, Sar Levitan Center for Social Policy Studies, published in October 2000:

  • The most promising avenue for improving and increasing the economic and social prosperity of youth is to keep them in school with continuous life-long learning;
  • Investing in the acquisition of basic academic skills including reading, writing, math, and critical reasoning skills for youth is essential to their school performance and future success;
  • Substantial work experience during the high school years is a long-term investment, not just a temporary means of income but increasing the quality, number, intensity and occupational diversity of job opportunities and work experience for all high school students and especially those from low income families and neighborhoods has a significant payoff for improving the future labor market success of young people;
  • Employer provided job training including apprenticeship or classroom training directly linked with employer commitment for high school dropouts is another proven strategy for improving their prospects in the labor market; and

WHEREAS, work experience for youth provides educational and enrichment opportunities leading to academic improvement for millions of disadvantaged youth and work experience helps youth develop life skills and values that will prepare them for the challenges of adolescence and the responsibilities of adulthood; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has a strong commitment to the improvement of job and educational prospects for all youth including disadvantaged youth, and believes that work experience including summer employment opportunities are critical to achieving those goals and further believes that youth employment is a critical means for learning, building responsibility and achieving personal development and growth,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the Congress, the Administration, and all partners in the workforce investment system including the private sector, all levels of government and community based organizations to provide greater work experience opportunities for youth including structured work-based learning opportunities, internships and apprenticeships; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the Congress to increase youth funding in FY 2002; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that legislation which addresses the workforce development needs of youth must provide a meaningful role for the mayor, connection to the mayor's Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and the Youth Council.