Brief | February 6, 2019

Are Young Pennsylvanians Citizen-Ready?

Investments in education key to future success

The U.S. is frequently described as being at “full employment,” while the reality is that our country has serious workforce shortages that could jeopardize continued economic growth. Fierce competition with the private sector for qualified young people is one of the reasons why the U.S. Army missed its 2018 recruiting goal by 8.5 percent, or about 6,500 recruits.

In addition, more than half of Pennsylvania’s employers believe that recruiting qualified candidates for the workforce is very or extremely difficult, and only a fifth believe the current labor force is “good” or “excellent.” Pennsylvania’s booming economy and future national security require a qualified, “All Hands On Deck” workforce.

This report shows that too few young Pennsylvanians are ready, willing, and qualified to do the work necessary to support the state’s future.

Data shows that 1 in 9 (11 percent) of Pennsylvanians aged 16 to 24 are not employed or in school. Additionally, approximately 44,000 of Pennsylvania’s young adults have an arrest record, which has far-reaching impacts for their future employment prospects. Finally, almost three-quarters (71 percent) of Pennsylvania’s young adults ages 17 to 24 would not qualify for military service due to problems with obesity, education, drug abuse, or crime.

These numbers make it clear that the state must do more to ensure that young Pennsylvanians are citizen-ready – ready for college or careers, including military service if they so choose.

Supporting home visiting, increasing access to early education and ensuring equitable and adequate K-12 education funding will help create a workforce able to serve the needs of our state, both now and into the future.


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