In front of students, faculty, community members and community activists, State Representative LaShawn Ford (D-Dist. 8) and Nicholas Smith (D-Dist. 34), along with Chicago State University Zaldwaynaka Scott announced that the Commission on Young Adult Employment would be housed at Chicago State University (CSU).
Ford introduced and passed the legislation that created the commission, which will identify issues concerning the readiness and ability of young adults to find employment after graduating from college or completing any other education program.
“I am pleased to announce Chicago State University has accepted the responsibility of providing support for the Commission on Young Adult Employment,” Ford said. “Our plan will help put young people to work in Illinois. We must not only pass a budget for summer jobs for the youth, but we must adopt a budget that provides workforce training dollars.”
Scott said there is a need for policies and programs to give young people opportunities to have better lives.
“We applaud LaShawn Ford, Nicholas Smith and Marcus Evans in support of this very important initiative,” Scott said. We’re hopeful the Illinois legislature will provide critical funding.”
Ford said the legislature was happy to have Scott as president of Chicago State University.
“We see the reality of what this unemployment is doing to our communities,” he said. “We see you, we hear you, we’re going to do everything we can to address the issue of unemployment.”
Ford said it is the mission to bring resources to the commission.
“The summer is upon us and the work has begun to address youth unemployment in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois,” he said.
Smith said support for the commission is crucial to its success.
“We have a responsibility while we’re here, to our communities and society,” he said. “There’s no better place to have this commission than Chicago State University. This commission is another feather in its cap. We’ll make sure we provide the University and the commission with what it needs to be successful.”
Kelly Harris is the interim dean of the Honors College at CSU. Harris said the University has been doing work on preventing young adult violence and unemployment for a long time.
“Not having access to jobs is a form of violence,” he said.
Scott said the goal of the commission is to identify the roadblocks to youth finding employment.
“We will wrap our arms around the problem to fix it,” she said. “We know there needs to be a long-term solution.”
Maxwell Little is a community organizer. He said 45 percent of young Black men and 37 percent of young Black women are out of work.
“I understand the streets cannot be the only one who’s hiring,” he said. “If we don’t do something, we’re going to have a serious issue in Chicago.”
Little also noted the racial wealth gap and how unemployment plays into that. He pledged to support the commission.
“I’ll do all I can to work with Chicago State University and the Illinois legislature.”
Ford said the problem is not the number of jobs…it is access. He said as improvements are made to the city and state’s infrastructure, there will be a need for engineers and construction workers.
“The jobs are available, we just need to make sure our students are trained,” he said. “And, educate the young people and train them for the jobs that are available.”