The Reality of Youth Employment in Adams County

Elevating Voices of Youth, Educators, and Employers

The ACYI Youth Employment CAN has gained new insights into the challenges to employment for young people in Adams County through utilization of Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA).

TEGA is a peer-to-peer research tool that allows the ACYI Partnership to capture authentic youth and community perspective. TEGAs are young women aged 18-24 who are trained to conduct research via a mobile application, which allows them to serve as digital interviewers, collecting real-time data about their communities in the form of audio, videos and photos, as well as traditional survey data.

The TEGA Team conducted 16 interviews with young men of color, employers, and educators from Adams County. The purpose of these interviews is twofold:

  1. Validate or refute barriers to youth employment as identified by the CAN
  2. Determine what strategies are effective in helping youth to obtain employment at a self-sufficient wage.
ACYI TEGAs conducted 16 interviews over the span of two weeks, including: five interviews with young men of color, six interviews with employers, and five interviews with educators.

After a thematic analysis of the research and data, TEGA interviews were able to validate two of the factors the CAN identified as barriers to youth employment:

  1. Youth are not aware of career options that exist that pay a self-sufficient wage and do not require a two or four-year college education. They do not believe, however, that college to be the only option.
  2. Youth believe there are not enough available jobs that pay a self-sufficient wage.

In addition to the validated factors, the TEGA findings shed a different light on two more factors the CAN identified

  1. Males of color know resources exist, but lack awareness of how to access. Educators and employers both have awareness of resources.
  2. The majority of schools have a set-up to support with non-college options, though it is not consistent across the county.

Youth are not aware of career options

If they’re not connected to a college or university or their high school, if they are a disconnected youth essentially, it’s just like, how the heck would they go about like accessing employment opportunities?”

Female Educator

Youth understood that college is not a necessity to gain valuable skills, but lacked knowledge about what options were otherwise available. All respondent types emphasized that experience and attitude were the most important attributes young men of color could demonstrate to obtain self-sufficient employment.

Employers and educators indicated
that some kind of training or experience was important for youth, not a
four-year degree. Communication and time management were indicated as
challenges in providing opportunities for youth.

There are not enough self-sufficient wage jobs available

Youth, educators, and employers all perceived that there were not enough self-sufficient wage jobs available to young people Youth acknowledged that there were jobs available, but they were in industries which don’t always pay a self-sufficient wage.

Honestly, I don’t hear nothing. All I know is that around here there’s a lot of fast food, like, all kinds of fast food…I feel like there’s good jobs over here [Adams County], but there’s no, like jobs people want.”

Youth, Age 20

Resources exist, but awareness of them is lacking

Youths’ awareness of pathways to self-sufficient wages was very slight. They know that opportunities exist, but without a push from others, they aren’t sure how to pursue them. Educators and employers, however, were highly knowledgeable about pathways existing in their own professional fields, and in the community.

At first I didn’t know where to go, so I was just applying at a lot of random different jobs, like, didn’t matter what I was doing.

Youth, Age 18

Schools have support systems in place, but they lack consistency

Educators cited multiple support systems in place for
helping youth get to a non-degree requiring career. However, these support
systems are not universal and there are different best practices across the

School Focus
Mapleton Soft skills – mock interviews,
internship opportunities (in carpentry), CareerX courses
Adams 12 Tech and trades, construction, video production,
graphic design, teacher cadets, welding,
auto diesel, computer, forensic and medical science, EMT
Westminster Trio Bound Program, field trips to companies (e.g. DaVita),
soft skills, the Future Center

Young males of color themselves didn’t feel as though their schools explicitly guided them toward non-college options and wished they would have explained the difference between a job and career. Youth and educators said there is still a lot of pressure to push youth toward college, although the stigma in the community is diminishing as employers come to the realization that they need professionals with trade experience.

Four key themes emerged from the TEGA research across all three respondent types:

Isabel, ACYI TEGA, interviews a young person in the community.
  1. Having access to information is the greatest need young males of color have. All the cohorts sited access as the most important measure
  2. All cohorts expressed the need for real life context and understanding. Youth aren’t prepared for “real life” – budgeting, job experience, communication skills, ‘adulting’.
  3. Technology is youth’s greatest strength because it allows youth to help companies see the potential for efficiency and innovation within the company.
  4. The cost of living is skyrocketing – youth mentioned the cost of food and adults mentioned housing as major implications when it came to being self-sufficient.

To learn more about these findings and how you can engage in this work, attend the ACYI Youth Employment CAN on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 11:00 AM. RSVP HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *