Achieve Twin Cities hosted a virtual lunch break with local experts and Achieve program staff to discuss widespread talent shortages and economic shifts, with a focus on shifts to skills-based hiring. Panelists included ConnextMSP Managing Director Ieesha McKinzie Collins, Achieve’s Career and College Center Coordinator at South High School Kelsey Massey, and Achieve’s Step Up Youth Services Manager Talia Levin. Jeremiah Brown, Achieve’s Senior Director of Internships and Partnerships facilitated the event. To read more from Achieve on the event, follow this link.
RealTime Talent’s Senior Director of Strategic Research, Erin Olson began the program by providing a presentation on youth employment data trends. Erin raised that the talent shortage remains one of Minnesota’s most pressing economic challenges. The already-high unemployment rates of young workers pre-pandemic soared even higher during the tightest months of the pandemic. Additionally, underemployment of young workers doubled between 2019 and 2020, with one-third of young workers being underemployed (working in roles for which they are overqualified by education or experience) nationwide (this includes “marginally attached” or part-time seeking full-time) in the 2020 COVID labor market. Underemployment rates continue to be the highest to this day for young Black and Native American youth. The overall MSP Metro unemployment rate is 2.4% while the youth-friendly careers unemployment rate is 3.1%.
Top Share of Occupational Employment
These are the top five occupations where the highest proportion of talent working in those roles here in the 7-county MSP Metro are between the ages of 16 and 24. These have been sorted in rank order from the occupations that have the largest share of younger youth. Over 3 in 4 restaurant hosts and coffee shop workers are between 16 and 24 years of age, making an average entry-level wage of just $22,200. These occupations still sit at an unemployment rate of about 5.8% which is quite high in our market today.
Sample Industries for Workforce Strategy Defining
Erin shared that a big step we can take is promoting how transferrable skills could move youth into higher-paying, higher-demand gateway careers. We continue to see foundational skills in leadership, customer service, communication, and digital skills in high importance across all Gateway occupations, and many origin roles offer the opportunity for youth to hone those very skills. The next step is mentoring youth on how to value the process of developing those skills and ultimately translate that knowledge into a new career. Employers also need more exposure on the immense value that youth can bring to their workplace. “Our young people are the future of our community, it’s critical that we carefully track these changes in our employment and education landscapes and ensure that we’re using data-informed strategies to advise students in preparing for meaningful high-skill, living wage careers,” says Jeremiah. “We’re so thankful to Erin for her data expertise and to Ieesha, Kelsey and Talia for their wisdom in how we can utilize these lessons for our work with young people moving forward.”
To learn more about youth employment trends, we have linked the event recording .