What Small Business Owners Should Know About Opportunity Youth

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on youth unemployment.

Q: Why is youth unemployment a small business concern?

A: Nearly five years have passed since the end of the Great Recession, yet 6.7 million young Americans are unemployed – a staggering number that negatively affects economic demand and hurts small businesses. Additionally, small employers are struggling to fill job vacancies that are crucial to both their individual success and our overall economic growth. In fact, 40% of American employers cite lack of skills as the No. 1 reason for entry-level vacancies.

Q: How can small businesses help alleviate the youth unemployment problem?

A: Small employers are in a unique position to create professional opportunities for young people to help bridge the gap between youth who are out of school and out of work, and small businesses who are having difficulties filling those entry-level positions with qualified workers. Small businesses have an advantage in matching young people ready and willing to work with employers who need their help to build and secure their business future and a stronger economy.

Q: What sorts of opportunities can small businesses provide unemployed youth?

A: There are many steps small businesses can take to help train the workers of today to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Small employers can increase the number of opportunity youth hires within their company, expand full or part-time internship or apprenticeship programs, adopt or expand mentoring programs for local youth and partner with nonprofit training providers to create new mentoring, job-shadowing or recruiting programs.

Q: Where can I learn more about taking action on youth unemployment?

A: Small Business Majority launched a sign-on campaign where small employers can pledge to provide some sort of opportunity for our nation’s unemployed youth. This opportunity youth pledge can be found on www.smallbiz4youth.com. There you can pledge your support, learn more about the issue of youth unemployment, find out ways you can provide opportunities to young Americans and read testimonials from small business owners who have already committed to help train and support our nation’s youth.