A smart, healthy workforce is the (not so secret) secret to our success. It’s critical that we grow that talent base with Colorado’s youth to continue that success, because in just a little over a year our economy will demand the most-educated workforce in the country, with 74 percent of jobs requiring some postsecondary education.
There’s a lot that goes into building a strong economy and putting Coloradans to work in great careers, and this week, we want to focus on the Chamber affiliate that enhances that work by focusing on youth: the Denver Opportunity Youth Initiative.
This initiative of the Chamber works with nearly 150 businesses and 24 community partners to reengage youth aged 16 to 24 who have become disconnected from school and work. The initiative brings together the right organizations to help youth:
- Get their high school diplomas, college degrees or certificates;
- Gain work experience through job shadowing, internships and job training; and
- Remove barriers to their success by providing services like transportation and child care.
So, who are opportunity youth? When we launched the effort back in 2014, there were more than 10,000 youth in Denver alone. Today, there are about 8,800 and the initiative just released a report offering a better picture of who these youth are:
- 57 percent of Denver opportunity youth are Latino
- 60 percent of Denver opportunity youth have a high school diploma, GED or more education
- The most common barriers to education and employment were limited English proficiency and being pregnant or parenting
What we have found – with a little support, some connections and encouragement, our kids are thriving and finding their way into great jobs and careers. We need businesses like yours to lend your support. Join us!
Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.