2020 Urban Research Award: Addressing the Workforce Needs of Youth in Urban Settings: A Study of Local Workforce Development Boards’ Inclusion of Youth Expertise

PI: Mary Collins, PhD, MA, Chair of Social Welfare Policy & Professor, School of Social Work

photo of Mary Collins
Mary Collins

This project will examine Local Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) in urban settings in regard to their inclusion of youth perspectives in planning and implementation. Currently, insufficient evidence exists regarding the policy networks to address youth employment in cities and the characteristics of these networks that promote innovative, sustained, and effective results. Disconnected youth (sometimes referred to as “opportunity” youth) are disproportionately youth of color and are at considerable risk of long term economic and social disadvantage. In turn, this reinforced disadvantage exacerbates the current problem of social inequality. In order to effectively move forward, cities must develop workforce development systems that serve the needs of youth, that align with state goals regarding workforce development and that include youth expertise and youth perspectives. Local WDBs are central to these efforts. Little is known, however, about the operations of these Boards, how they address the needs of vulnerable youth, and how the lessons within individual cities might be more broadly shared. The data from this study will address these gaps by identifying urban-based strategies, progress in this area, and challenges yet to overcome. Results of the analysis will produce information detailing the operations and best practices of the Local WDBs in regard to youth.