Illinois wants to get young adults into the workforce, and is starting a first-of-its-kind task force in hopes of making that happen.
“It’s about the kids,” said Joseph Rayford, a mentor for Youthbuild, a non-profit agency that aims to teach young adults, oftentimes high school dropouts, the skills necessary to get a job.
“They are all individuals and they need individual help. They need consistency,” he said Thursday at the Nordloff Center, at 118 N. Main Street.
That consistency is what Rayford is trying to provide through Youthbuild.
“They lack so much [knowledge], because ain’t nobody implanted it into them,” he said. “These kids don’t know work ethic. That’s the first thing we have to understand, because ain’t nobody shown them work ethic.”
That’s the message Rayford is trying to convey at the Youthbuild Employment Hearing, a first-of-its-kind educational task force.
The hope of the task force is to help young adults find work.
“We are looking for any ideas, suggestions,” said Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). “What can we do in the general assembly? Or, what can local non-profits do, and what can local employers do, to improve the situation?”
According to statistics released in 2016, in Winnebago and Boone Counties alone, the task force says there are nearly 20,000 young adults that are unemployed.
That number swells to 738,000 statewide.
The task force will hold forums throughout the state, gathering ideas for how to lower those numbers.
“I’d love to see more apprenticeships, more opportunities for people to learn on the job. What better way to learn skills or acquire skills, than an employer allowing them to come on the job for a while, to see what they make, to see what they do? Hands on experience,” Sen. Stadelman said.
Stadelman says he understands there won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
“It’s a difficult, complex issue, making sure students get through school, but even that isn’t enough,” Stadelman continued. “They have to continue to learn and acquire additional skills, just to remain employable in the workforce.”