Press Release

At Youth Build Contruction Lab, Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Connect Local At-Risk Youth With Jobs Opportunities

May 6, 2011

Rochester, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with Rochester community leaders to announce new legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly benefiting youth that have dropped out of high school or have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give organizations in Rochester the tools and resources they need to help city youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in the difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”

“YouthBuild is a great asset to our community because it offers a comprehensive package of educational and GED programs, as well as paid job placement and on-site job training,” said Mayor Thomas S. Richards. “We are grateful that Senator Gillibrand understands the issues our youth are facing and is working hard to secure additional funding for even more programs and the expansion of existing ones.”

“Monroe County partners with a number of non-profit organizations and Monroe Community College to strengthen our workforce development efforts by providing the education, skills, and hands-on training necessary to prepare our residents to successfully enter the workforce,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. “Increasing employment opportunities for young people is a critical component in the strengthening of our local economy and the Urban Jobs Act of 2011 will allow us to expand on the many programs we currently provide.

“Some 40 percent of all job openings projected for New York by 2018 will require ‘middle skills’ — skills acquired through two-year education and training programs. Community colleges play a central role in developing these skills and building a robust pipeline of workers. As the primary educator of the local workforce, Monroe Community College is a strong advocate for providing underrepresented urban youths with pathways to academic and career success, so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families,” said MCC President Anne M. Kress. “Senator Gillibrand’s vision underscores the need to bolster investment in training and education to give these youths a better future and strengthen our economy.”

“I am excited that Senator Gillibrand has introduced a comprehensive bill to address the needs of urban youth,” said Urban League of Rochester CEO Bill Clark. “If passed, the Urban Jobs Act could be an important factor in turning around unemployment within this critical group of people.”

The unemployment rates for certain segments of the youth population are significantly higher than the national average. In many urban communities around the nation, roughly one-third of minority youth are unemployed. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates. Here in Rochester, the high school graduation rate in 2009 was only 46 percent, leaving many former students without the education and training needed to succeed in the workforce.

Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Developing policies such as those proposed by the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in acquiring the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.

The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:

  • Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;
  • Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education;
  • Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and
  • Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.

The Urban Jobs Act would also directs the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise on the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.