Youth Workforce Development

Center for Youth Employment

Mayor talking to a young New York employee

Although New York City's economy has seen record job growth in recent years, far too many young New Yorkers are reaching adulthood without the skills, credentials, experiences and support system needed to launch successful careers. While more youth are finishing high school and going to college, degree completion rates remain low. Many teens and young adults who want jobs cannot find them, or are working part-time rather than full-time. More than 130,000 young New Yorkers are neither in school nor working at all. At the same time, many local employers are struggling to recruit and retain well-trained and skilled workers and are falling short of their goals for a diverse workforce.

In May 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray launched the Center for Youth Employment (CYE); a first-of-its-kind office charged with bringing coordination, focus and rigor to the work of helping young New Yorkers prepare for career success. CYE is dedicated to better preparing New York City's young adults to compete in the 21st century job market. The Mayor gave CYE the mission of delivering "more and better" in the City's youth workforce system by expanding the number of employment, internship and mentoring opportunities across all programs to at least 100,000 per year by 2020 and by making sure every one of those programs helps young New Yorkers gain experience, add skills, or explore potential career paths.

Working closely with philanthropy and corporate partners, CYE has helped grow overall capacity across all youth workforce programs from an estimated 62,000 opportunities in 2015 to more than 109,000 in 2018, exceeding its goal of 100,000 total opportunities two years ahead of schedule. At the same time, CYE works to create a continuum of opportunities for career exposure, summer jobs, skills-building programs, supportive mentors and thoughtful guidance towards college and career by working hand-in-hand with City agencies, nonprofits, the philanthropic community and local employers.

CYE has made strong progress on each of its three priority goals:

Vulnerable Youth

  • Through CYE's advocacy, the City tripled the number of vulnerable in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
  • CYE has focused on the experience of LGBTQ youth in workforce programs, developing tools and resources to better serve them.
  • CareerLift: a $1.5 million initiative developed with nonprofit partners JobsFirstNYC and Social Finance, helps newly-hired young adults who were formerly out-of-school and out-of-work to stay employed and advance their careers. CareerLift will pilot a first-in-the-nation pay-for-success model to benefit employers by reducing costs of employee turnover and improving worker productivity.

Employer Engagement

  • To message to employers that young adult talent adds value and that employers must be engaged to build their future workforce, CYE created an Employer Best Practices Playbook featuring proven success strategies and tools from businesses that effectively utilize interns.
  • To amplify that message, in spring 2017, CYE launched a first-of-its-kind employer recruitment campaign comprised of a multi-media ad campaign that appeared throughout the City with the message "Get Help. Give Experience." Amplified through social and earned media, the campaign contributed to CYE's engaging nearly 1,000 new employers to hire interns over the last three years.
  • To create scale and interest in the growing sectors of the economy, CYE took an industry-focused approach with the creation of "Industry Funds" within seven high growth sectors: fashion and retail, business and professional services, hospitality and tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, real estate and technology to drive scale and bring sector specific skills to youth while engaging employers. The Industry Funds built partnerships between City programs and industry intermediaries such as trade groups and associations as well as employers. Industry Funds helped connect 600 employers across targeted sectors that hired interns in 2017.

High-Quality Internships

  • Working with the Department of Youth and Community Development, and strongly leveraging its Industry Funds to secure internships and financial support, CYE has helped scale the City's Ladders for Leaders internship program for high-achieving 16-21 year old students, from 475 in summer 2014 to more than 1,850 in 2017.
  • For younger youth, CYE focused on developing an age appropriate summer work-based learning experience. Developed in partnership with the Department of Education, CareerCLUE (Community Learning, Understanding, and Experience) offers a mix of educational enrichment, career exploration, personal development and service learning activities for younger high school students. Students earn academic credit and a financial stipend, while exploring career paths and gaining work experience that helps prepare them for internships and jobs. The program is being integrated into the City's annual Summer Youth Employment Program, which serves 70,000 youth and young adults every year.
  • For students in Career and Technical Education (CTE), CYE partnered with the leading corporate industry group, the Partnership for New York City, and the Department of Education to launch CTE Industry Scholars, which will place 1,500 CTE students into internships in 2018. The Center is working with CUNY to develop a similar program for college students.

Visit the Center for Youth Employment