By Ana Gomez Salcido
Latinos are more than 50 percent of the 41,000 young adults in San Diego County who are neither working or are in school, known as disconnected youth. This includes 16 to 24 year olds, according to a new research by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
The research indicates that 51.2 percent, or 21,000 young adults are Latino, who are not working or in school in San Diego County. And according to findings, this is attributed to different reasons.
“These young people are not in high school or college, and are also not working for many different reasons. There are various barriers in their lives like transport problems, lack of access to resources they need, like mental health. It can also be related to their family situation, they can be in charge of taking care of loved ones like their siblings,” said Brooke Valle, vice president of Strategy at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “These young people are our future. They are a very important part in our community. They are in a situation we want to change.”
Some of these individuals do not have a place to live, according to findings. Others are involved in drugs, or because they don’t go to school and don’t work, can easily hang with the wrong crowd and get in trouble with the police and get arrested.
“A lot of the disconnected youth don’t have the experience needed to get or have a job. That’s why we think education is important. We also think is important that young people have resources and access to internships to be able to level up in a company,” Valle added.
Jazmin Alas, a 12th grader, said she has struggled to get a job, and most of the times, one person of the opposite sex is who gets the job when she goes to an interview.
“I already have the legal age to work, but every employer wants me to have experience. How can I have experience, if I don’t get a job?” Alas asked. “When I was younger, my brother had a similar experience with disconnected youth. He had to take care of me because I was very little and my mother was working 12-hour shifts. He couldn’t get a job and had a hard time at school because he couldn’t do his homework to take care of me. It’s not that we don’t want to work or go to school, is for many reasons that we can’t move forward.”
More than 750 change makers of all ages got together at the Opportunity Summit to step up the efforts to support youth ages 16 to 24 who are not working or in school. The event organized by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, was held at the Convention Center of the Town and Country Hotel in San Diego, on Thursday, April 12.
At the summit, existing partnerships were discussed. There was also the introduction of model partnerships from other regions, and the consideration of new partnerships and expansion of old ones.
“As an organization, we are giving the resources needed for young people to move forward. We are training them so they can get a job, and we are also giving them the access to internships in companies and the job market in general,” Valle said. “If we as a community don’t give them the support they need, we are failing and missing on everything they can give.”
Jahir Costelo, a 21 year old who lives in the City Heights area, has been trying to get a job for 8 months, since he graduated from high school, and still hasn’t found a job.
“I have already participated in internships, but I still haven’t found a job,” Costello said. “I haven’t wasted my time, I’m learning new skills and learning all the faculties needed to hold a job. I still keep my hopes up, and have a lot of hope that I will find a job.”