Highlights six education and workforce policy strategies used in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin to explain young people transitioning to adulthood matters and how it predicts economic success; and examines the challenges and effective and promising strategies that leverage funding and partnerships to support improved outcomes for youth in the Great Lakes region.

“A critical factor in promoting economic growth is ensuring that there are workers who can fill the jobs that provide the economic engine for shared prosperity. Although the Great Lakes region—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin—has seen declines in manufacturing, there are signs of regional growth and improvement that can be further realized with a workforce that meets the needs of a changing economy. Attracting workers (including immigrants) is one strategy for meeting the region’s workforce needs, but future growth and prosperity will depend on ensuring that young people who live in the region remain and attain the education and skills relevant for future jobs. Although several federal funding streams aim to improve educational and workforce outcomes for youth, much of the power to effect change rests with state and local governments. Employers and philanthropy also have important roles to play in supporting the workforce. In this brief, [the author explores] why the transition to adulthood matters and how it predicts future economic success. [The author] also [examines] the challenges that young people face and look[s] at effective and promising strategies that leverage funding and partnerships to support improved outcomes for youth in the Great Lakes region” (p.1).

“In the Great Lakes states, young people face the challenges that are apparent in the national data on educational and workforce outcomes. But economic challenges in some states have contributed to greater challenges for young people” (p.4). The brief cites that “Unemployment rates for young people ages 16 to 19 are three to four times larger than the average for all age groups, except in Wisconsin, where young people ages 16 to 19 are only about two times more likely to be unemployed than the average jobseeker in that state” (p.7).

“This brief is part of a series recommending policies that [can help] build ladders of opportunity and economic mobility for young people in the six state Great Lakes region—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin” (p.2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The author examines six strategies that the Great Lakes states are using to support young people as they transition to careers and adulthood. These are: 1. “Career academies, which…combine rigorous education with an industry focus and work-based learning, have positive and significant impacts on labor market outcomes….Also effective are models that allow students to enroll in college coursework in high school…or work toward a college degree…” (p.9). 2. “High-quality career and technical education (CTE) at the high school and college levels can give students access to careers that will pay family-sustaining wages and meet employers’ needs for workers with appropriate technical skills” (p.11). 3. “Work-based and out-of-school-time learning opportunities” (p.8). “Although research has found limited impacts on later employment, several studies have shown positive impacts on employment in the summer of participation and on other medium- and long-term outcomes, such as avoidance of criminal behavior, reduced mortality, and better school attendance…” (p.12). 4. “Higher education systems reforms” (p.8). “Recent government and foundation activity has focused on improving higher education so that it better serves students, especially disadvantaged students….Strategies embodied in these initiatives include…[c]lass schedules that allow working students to enroll…” (p.14). 5. “Labor market information and systems data” (p.8). “Tracking progress through educational institutions and into the workforce…can be done through P-20 data systems, which link individual records in employment and educational data starting in preschool and continuing through college and entry into the workforce” (p.15). 6. “Adequate funding for postsecondary education” (p.8). “The resources dedicated to postsecondary education is a function of population size, the number enrolled in college, and the overall funding available in a state’s budget” (p.17). The brief offers additional strategies that have shown promise in meeting the needs of young people. • “Implement and Expand Career and College Pathways Programs at the High School Level” (p.18); • “Expand and Improve Opportunities for Work-Based and Out-of-School–Time Learning” (p.19); • “Leverage Federal Policy Changes to Support Continued Systems Reforms and Effective Programs” (p.20); and • “Expand Labor Market Information Capacity, and Use It to Shape Available Programs and Engage Employers” (p.21). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)