Less than half of people between the ages of 16 and 24 were employed in July 2011, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The 48.8 percent employment rate for the age group registered last year was the lowest since the bureau started keeping records in 1948. Unemployment among youth also increased by 745,000 people between April and July 2011, marking a nearly quarter-million uptick from 2010.
To put this in perspective, the labor force participation rate for all youth — the proportion of them working or looking for work — was 59.5 percent in July 2011. This was markedly less that the peak figure recorded in 1989, according to the bureau.
But these figures could soon improve in the city with the aid of a grant Schenectady County received through the state Department of Labor last month. The county was awarded $199,500 from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Youth Works Program that will go toward helping up to 125 unemployed youth in the city receive work readiness training and job placement.
The program is designed to provide permanent employment for at-risk youth living in the state’s urban centers.
“They’re trying to target this to real jobs that are going to be here now and into the future,” said Karen Johnson, the chairwoman of the county Legislature’s committee on human services and aging. “It’s a great program.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady will host training for youths from ages 16 to 18, while Schenectady County Community College will have classes for those 18 to 24. County spokesman Joe McQueen said the ultimate goal is to have participants pass an exam for a national work readiness credential, a national standard denoting an individual’s readiness for entry-level work.
McQueen said the program will also provide businesses with state tax credits for hiring youth enrolled in the training program. County businesses are eligible for up to $4,000 in credits through the state for tapping the youth workers.
Businesses participating in the program must be located within a reasonable commuting distance for eligible youth residing in the city. Employers also must show they can offer an in-demand occupation, have a business in a regional growth sector or are a priority for the area’s Regional Economic Development Council.
Across the state, the program includes $25 million in tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed youth and $62 million to support job training programs. Schenectady and Albany are among a dozen urban area across New York participating in the program.
Schenectady County legislators are expected to accept the grant during their meeting later this month. McQueen said area businesses can already check their eligibility to participate in the program by visiting the labor department’s Website.
“Anybody can go in right now and start applying for it,” he said.
On the web
Businesses interested in participating in the NY Youth Works program can visit http://www.jobs.ny.gov/youthworks.
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