It’s now a moral and economic crisis when many young Americans graduate from high school without being on a pathway to a well-paying job. In Greater New Orleans, nearly one in five young people are neither working or in school. The region is home to the third largest population of disconnected youth in the U.S., where nearly 40 percent of of the children live in poverty and few students have exposure to good-paying, high-demand careers. All this is in conflict with the growing industries in Greater New Orleans, which require a more skilled workforce.
Sadly, there is a big disconnect between growing industries and schools, leaving many young people behind and as a result, leaving many businesses struggling to find qualified employees. What is needed is collaboration between the private and public sectors, like the JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bloomberg Philanthropies partnership, which has just announced $7.5 million to expand young people’s access to economic opportunity in New Orleans. This collaboration is offering coursework, credentials and work-based learning experiences to students that will put them on a pathway to developing the skills and knowledge to pursue well-paying jobs in high-demand fields. JPMorgan Chase and Bloomberg Philanthropies are providing $2.5 million and $5 million in grants, respectively.
These grants from JPMorgan Chase and Bloomberg Philanthropies will support YouthForce NOLA, a partnership of community and education leaders working to help the city’s public high schools redesign their career and technical education programming. Its designed to dramatically increase the number of young people graduating from the city’s public high schools with opportunities to secure well-paying, high-demand jobs. Across Greater New Orleans, more than 67,000 skilled workers – people with more than a high school degree but less than a bachelor’s degree – will be needed in skilled crafts, health science and technology industries by 2024. This program holds great promise; if it succeeds, it could become a model across the US. Especially, as more American cities are rethinking vocational and technical education, and public-private.
YouthForce will go a long way to creating greater economic opportunity in New Orleans, helping 1,600 students earn credentials qualifying them for career pathways and place 1,200 students in paid internships in three regional industries: Skilled Crafts, including advanced manufacturing, environmental, energy, trade and logistics; Health Science, along with biosciences and healthcare; and Technology, covering digital media, software development and information technology.
JPMorgan Chase and Bloomberg’s investments in the future of New Orleans’ young people send a strong signal to the rest of the country about the importance of aligning education and career pathways. America’s success as a key innovator in the global economy depends on a 21st century education, beginning with a strong foundation in science, technology, and computer sciences. Collaborations like this are arming future generations of American leaders with the tools they need to grow a healthy economy that will continue to set the global standard in thinking and innovation.
Photo Credit: YouthForce Nola