Jobs for America’s Graduates Alumni Deliver for Employers

Business leaders in America are facing and, we believe, will continue to face severe shortages of well-prepared workers. Based on what we have seen in our own industries, we predict workforce shortages will continue, likely for decades to come.

If demographics are destiny, our destiny as employers demands that we bring all potential workers into the labor market – across multiple levels of experience and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

From our vantage point as industry HR leaders, it will take organizations like Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to best prepare today’s youth to be truly ready to work on day one.

We represent diverse industries in disparate areas of the nation. However, we share remarkably similar experiences as we search for needed talent to become the next generation of leadership in our organizations. In collaboration with JAG, we have identified and developed 37 critical employability competencies that we believe will help us unlock the potential of youth across the nation to fill this critical pipeline.

We are committed members of the JAG Board of Directors partly because we have been so impressed with JAG’s outcomes for the youth it serves, and the growing talent needs across our own organizations. 19,000 employers across the country have hired JAG students because the organization has proven it can train the youth of today to be great employees. To put it simply, JAG students show up for work on time, are customer service-focused, and are ready to work and learn.

JAG reaches students as early as middle school and continues in grades 9-12 to develop those all-important employability competencies. In addition, JAG has been equally successful in helping out-of-school youth gain the skills and support they need to be fully effective in the workplace.

JAG has recently celebrated its 42nd year in operation, and in that time has worked with more than 1.6 million vulnerable youth across hundreds of locations in 39 states with convincing, cost-effective, and consistent results. Just last year, in the face of an especially difficult year in our schools, JAG achieved the following results in the 1,500 locations in which it operates:

The JAG class of 2021 graduation rate was nearly 96%, one of the highest ever for the organization. As a comparison, the national graduation rate is well under 84%.

The JAG jobs rate was nearly 65%, the highest in the organization’s history, and the full-time JAG jobs rate was nearly 83%, which is another all-time high.

The unemployment rate for JAG youth was only 6.25% while the rate for all 18–19-year-olds was 10.4%. JAG was nearly 4% lower.

The post-secondary education rate for the class of 2021 increased from last year to a remarkable 46.55% – up 15%. For reference, the national enrollment rates are down 10–15% for the second year in a row while JAG’s was up by nearly 15%.

Serving with us on the JAG National Board are a dozen other C-Suite executives from the Fortune 500, Chief State School Officers, and CEOs of major organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the National Urban League. Ten Governors also serve on the JAG Board – more than any other board in the nation. We serve because we have seen, firsthand, the remarkable impact of reaching promising youth who have proven to fulfill their potential if they are provided with the necessary help to prepare them for the workforce.

Millions of our nation’s youth and young adults could help us meet the urgent workforce needs of our economy that we as employers see and feel every day if they received this kind of support. In turn, we can provide each graduate with terrific opportunities for great jobs – and even better careers.

From a legislative perspective, we also support bipartisan efforts to reauthorize a federal measure that supports unemployed individuals seeking work through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This will give many the opportunity to gain in-demand skills. As school boards seek the most effective means of truly engaging young people and motivating them to succeed in both school and work, we strongly encourage them to begin or continue investing in JAG. JAG is precisely the kind of program that we, as a nation, need to take to truly scale

To end where we started: we must, as employers, reach our youth sooner and more effectively with the promise of economic and personal success through the opportunities available in our companies and industries. The days of seemingly random connections between employers and young workers have long since passed. In this new workforce era, we need a disciplined and far more consistent youth talent pipeline, working in close partnership with our colleagues in government, business, and education, to consistently meet and engage with these youth early and often.