As we enter the new millennium, several trends exist that are radically changing the way our nation's young people will participate in the workforce. New technologies have opened up new industries and revolutionized our notion of the workplace. A booming economy has contributed to remarkably low unemployment rates. Today's young people can look forward to unprecedented opportunities, but only if they are prepared. Young people with little sense of direction, who do not obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter an increasingly complex workplace, will be left behind. The disparity between skilled and unskilled workers will become particularly dramatic in the next decade, when shifting demographics will increase/intensify competition for jobs.
Those of us charged with helping young people reach their full potential must re-examine the way in which we prepare them for tomorrow's workplace. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 provides an excellent opportunity to do just that. WIA authorizes over one billion dollars per year to help low income youth acquire the education, skill, work experience and support they will need to make the transition to productive adulthood.
In creating the Youth Councils -- a mandated component of the Workforce Investment Boards -- WIA provides local communities with the framework for developing comprehensive and effective strategies that ensure such successful transitions. The partnerships represented on the Youth Council bring together a diverse set of stakeholders and resources, partners who can address the needs of young people more effectively that any one partner can do alone. Because the leadership provided bythe local Youth Councils will be pivotal in making this initiative work, it is essential that communities compose these Councils with great care.
This guide is designed to provide practical information for community leaders, local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), Youth Councils, staff and others that are committed to effective youth and workforce development. It contains four sections and several appended exercises.
Chapter 1: "Planning the Menu" defines youth development, outlines the basic concepts of making connections for young people (system-building), describes how WIA can make a difference and starts a work plan for Youth Councils.
Chapter 2: "Youth Councils: Essential Ingredients" addresses the wide range of Youth Council responsibilities, from organization and staffing to strategic planning and accountability.
Chapter 3: "Transition to WIA: From Soup To Nuts" addresses resource allocation decision making, follow-up services, the performance system, selecting service providers and other important administrative decisions.
Chapter 4: "Coming Together At the Table" depicts the path ways to comprehensive service delivery based on proven princi ples and practices. The building blocks that are available as the platform for developing a system for young people are described.
Youth Councils offer a leadership opportunity for local communities to bring about change in youth activities and outcomes. If communities take advantage of this opportunity, Youth Councils will be in a strong position to stimulate broad-based change, reward innovation, and improve performance in youth development and youth organizations. Communities will need assistance building effective Youth Councils. This guide will provide communities with the help they need to transform the potential of Youth Councils into measurable results, results that will make a profound difference in the lives of our nation's youth.