Youth Issues

California Out-of-School Youth

Young people who lack basic high school education, postsecondary education or vocational credentials face an ongoing uphill battle in the competition for work. These young people are not only missing out on an education, but they also are missing the vital psychosocial support and protection that is integral in their well being and survival.

There is no individual recorded reason that can account for why students drop out of school, but research suggests that a combination of factors acting together contributes to the problem. However, it is recorded that High school dropouts are very unlikely to enter upon the modern workforce with the skills required to meet the demands of the nation’s global economy.

The Center for Labor and Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts states, youth with additional years of education are more likely to possess:
  • Stronger basic skills
  • Stronger labor force attachment
  • Reduced chances of unemployment
  • Higher rates of access to full time employment and work related benefits (i.e.: health insurance and pension)
  • A much greater likelihood of their employer investing in their professional development
  • Large annual salary earning advantages, which increase over time as they age
Additional Facts:
  • High school dropouts not possessing a GED are very likely to remain out of school
  • High school dropouts are at high risk of incarceration. Approximately 16 percent of all young men, ages 18-24, not possessing a high school degree or GED are either incarcerated or on parole at any one point in time (at an average annual cost of $20,000 per inmate) (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002).
  • Local areas with high levels of male teen employment are often characterized by lower rates of delinquency and property crime among teens.

California Out-of-Work Youth

Youth unemployment has received a significant amount of media coverage in recent years as governments, employers and society grapple with youth issues. High youth unemployment rates, however, are not new and the issue has been studied heavily over the years. What is becoming clear is that youth employment is really not a single issue at all, but a complex weaving of influences that hit a generation in quick succession.
Despite numerous programs targeting young workers, youth unemployment rates have not significantly dropped in the last twenty years, which suggests the need for new approaches to the issue. The employment rate of teens decreases sharply with family income. Students who live in high-poverty neighborhoods and students from low-income families are much less likely to work than youth in higher-income communities or from higher-income families. An environment of low achievement, low expectations, early exposure to violent and illicit activity, and lack of exposure to positive pathways out constrains the life options for young people.

Additional Facts:
  • Early work experience improves prospects for employability and assists in the development of soft skills sought by employers (Communication skills, team work, dependability) and occupational skills.
  • Work experience in high school for economically disadvantaged and minority youth increases their likelihood of graduation from high school relative to those who do not work at all.
  • Local areas with high levels of work among teen women are characterized by lower teen pregnancy & birth rates.
* Neeta Fogg & Paul Harrington, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA