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Not working and not in school: What's next for Michigan's "disconnected youth?"

Sep 30, 2014

Use whatever color phone you have to call us Thursday, Oct. 2, at 3:00 p.m. Share your insight on what can be done for young people falling out of the mainstream of work or school. The number is 877-255-2762.
Credit kerri / flickr

More than 200,000 young people around the state can't be found in institutions we usually expect them to be in, namely either work or school. Social workers in particular call these young people,"disconnected youth."

This "disconnected" tag doesn't mean recent undergrads sleeping in their old bedroom at their parents' house for a while between college and graduate school. While possibly "disconnected," their lack of work or education for a short period of time is not likely to push them to the fringes of society. Most of the research about this cohort focuses on young people between the ages of 16 and 24, and as the job market continues to be tight, these numbers are likely to stay large. 

Being out of school or work at this age makes it more likely these teens won't be able to gain the skills or experience necessary to get back to school or into the workforce very easily. Many of them are facing other challenges that caused them to be out of school in the first place: unstable families, foster care, mental health challenges or poverty.

On Thursday, Oct. 2 at 3:00 p.m., Michigan Radio's Jennifer White will host a one-hour special about what having high numbers of these young people means for the economic health of the state.

How do young people get disconnected in the first place, and what is our responsibility in getting them back on track?

We're curious to know if any of our listeners or readers had experiences like this while you were young. What worked for you? If you work with young people, what kinds of things have you seen work for meeting the needs of this group? Drop us a line any way you'd like to weigh in on this. 

Our guests are Hunter Gelbach, an education professor at Harvard who researches how adults and young people disconnect from each other, and how that exacerbates the issues young people outside of mainstream institutions face. Kasie White is the director of ReMix Genessee and will also be on hand to share her experience and answer questions. White works every day with young people who fit under the "disconnected youth" label and have a pile of challenges to get through in order to make it to a successful adulthood. We'll hear from young people dealing with these challenges and take a trip to a business in Lansing that's putting these young people back to work. 

See you on Thursday at 3:00. You won't want to miss it. Call us during the show at 866-255-2762.