A new study finds that one in seven young adults in Cuyahoga County aren’t working and aren't in school or the military — basically, not doing much of anything.
The research by the Center for Community Solutions calls them “disengaged youth” between the ages of 16 and 24. According to the data, each of those young adults results in $44,000 each year of missed wages, lost tax revenue, and increased need for public services.
The study also found that 75 percent of them have high school diplomas.
"They have goals, they have aspirations, but they didn’t have that adult support to guide them in what they needed to do next to be successful,” said Craig Dorn, president and CEO of Youth Opportunities Unlimited , a Cleveland-based nonprofit workforce development organization.
Dorn said the solution lies with mentoring, coaching and training the young adults to find not just jobs — but fulfilling career paths.
Instead of being called “disengaged youth,” they can be called “opportunity youth."
“Because they’re still young, they’re eager and there’s all those jobs out there, there’s thousands of jobs,” Dorn said. “Employers keep saying there’s a skills gap, they can’t find anyone good, so if we can figure out how to solve these two problems, it’s two for the price of one.”
That’s where businesses like Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights come in.
Managing partner Trevor Gile recently began working with Youth Opportunities Unlimited to train and hire young adults to work in all types of services at the dealership.
“As a business owner, we feel like it is our responsibility to help the future generation be successful,” Gile said.
Since they started the program, they have hired five teenagers and young adults and have five more in training. Gile said they are turning out to be some of this best employees.
“I think we were really surprised to see the quality of people that were coming in,” Gile said. “These were just kids who never had the opportunity to find a career path and we were able to find one.”
One of those kids is Christopher Bonner, who will be 19 years old soon. Bonner, a John F. Kennedy graduate, started at Motorcars Honda five months ago, finding the job through Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
“It’s been great, I earned a lot about cars just working here, I picked up a lot of new skills,” Bonner said. “I plan on taking it with me wherever I go.”
You can read more about the Center for Community Solutions report on "The $44,000 question: Examining Disengaged Youth in Cuayhoga County" here.