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Linked Learning Alliance and CalChamber team up with U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's National Network to Reduce Youth Unemployment

January 11, 2016 | Linked Learning Alliance

Sacramento, CA - The Linked Learning Alliance (Alliance) and the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) announced a partnership today with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) to expand opportunities for teenagers and young adults to get work experiences that can lead to college and career advancement. By joining USCCF's national youth employment network the Linked Learning Alliance and CalChamber will collaborate with national leaders in strengthening workforce development by focusing on employer-driven, work-based learning employment strategies for youth ages 16 to 24.

"With youth employment at an historic low and the projected workforce skills gap growing in many industry sectors across the nation over the coming decades, we realize now is a critical time to activate a network of champion chambers who are tackling this issue," says Cheryl Oldham, vice president of the USCCF Center for Education and Workforce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's recent study Making Youth Employment Work finds there are 6 million youth ages 16-24 that are out of school and out of work. The underemployment rate for recent college graduates with at least a bachelor's degree has steadily increased since 2001, while at the same time there are over 5 million positions employers are struggling to fill. California's unemployment rate for youth ages 16 - 19 is 21.5 percent, and ages 20 - 24 is 11.4 percent, compared with an overall unemployment rate in the state of 5.8 percent.

The research concludes that improving youth employment opportunities and closing the skills gap requires employers to implement strategies that meet their own business needs as well as accommodate high school and community college students. The partnership between the Linked Learning Alliance, the CalChamber and USCCF reinforces the business case for hiring youth and focuses on demand-driven solutions to support businesses employing young talent.

Work-based learning includes a range of hands on learning and out-of-classroom opportunities that expose students to professional and real world work environments. These opportunities are on a continuum that includes lower investment introductory experiences, such as hearing from guest speakers, participating in job shadows, worksite tours and informational interviews, to full internships. Through these opportunities students learn what it takes to thrive in the professional world.

With support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the California organizations are exploring how technology platforms can make it easier for employers to develop or expand work-based learning opportunities for teens and young adults. One strategy being piloted is LaunchPath, an online platform that matches employers who want to offer work-based learning opportunities and students who have preparation to be productive in the workplace.

"One of California's key competitive advantages is a skilled workforce," said Loren Kaye, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education. "We can maintain that advantage only by ensuring a steady pipeline of well-trained and highly motivated young workers who can obtain the experience needed to succeed in our diverse economy. We are eager to join the youth employment network and bring effective work-based learning technology solutions to the table to meet these goals."

CalChamber and Linked Learning Alliance will also convene sessions with business leaders in California to improve partnerships with schools using the Linked Learning approach to create systems that provide meaningful work-based learning experiences for youth.

"Linked Learning is an approach that prepares students for college, career, and life, and employers are essential partners in making sure students are ready to succeed," said Christopher Cabaldon, President, Linked Learning Alliance. "The Linked Learning movement is rapidly expanding. More than 1,200 pathways are aspiring to offer the Linked Learning opportunities to students in California alone. Getting professional experiences in the real world of work is an essential component of Linked Learning. Because Linked Learning students get technical and academic training in industry-themed pathways they are prepared to contribute in the workplace during their internships. By investing in professional development and training of student interns, companies can to save on training and onboarding when they later look to hire full time employees."

"We are thrilled that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has identified work-based learning as critical to economic progress," Cabaldon continued. "By lending their support, influence and expertise in business and economic development, the network convened by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will help leaders in many states find solutions to close the workforce skills gap and secure a better future for our youth."

Along with the Linked Learning Alliance and CalChamber, the other grant recipients selected to join this network include the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Main Line Chamber of Commerce (Philadelphia, PA), the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Grants will be disbursed to optimize youth employment programs through May 2017, all in a continued nationwide effort to close the skills gap.

For more information on the youth employment network click here.


About Linked Learning Alliance
The Linked Learning Alliance is a statewide coalition of education, industry, and community organizations dedicated to improving California's high schools and preparing students for success in college, career, and life. Established in May 2008, the Linked Learning Alliance aims to build a collective voice and coordinate efforts to expand access to Linked Learning in California-an approach to high school that integrates rigorous academics with real-world learning opportunities in fields of engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more. |

About California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber)
The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) is the largest broad-based business advocate to government in California. Membership represents one-quarter of the private sector jobs in California and includes firms of all sizes and companies from every industry within the state. CalChamber, a not-for-profit organization with roots dating to 1890, promotes international trade and investment in order to stimulate California's economy and create jobs. |

About U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF), Center for Education and Workforce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America's long-term competitiveness by addressing developments that affect our nation, our economy, and the global business environment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. |

About LaunchPath
LaunchPath is an online tool designed to connect employers, educators, and students to strengthen our workforce and close the skills gap in California. Through internships and work-based learning experiences, prepared high school and community college students have the opportunity to make substantive contributions and gain valuable experience. LaunchPath saves time, reduces risk, simplifies partnerships, and accelerates talent acquisition. LaunchPath is a joint project of the Foundation for California Community Colleges and the Linked Learning Alliance, made possible through seed funding by JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy and sustained through a combination of public and private support. |