A first hand report on youth unemployment.
Chicago’s youth voice their needs to empower their generation, and one way to reach their goals is to have job opportunities.
This week a few members of the Community TV Network team had the pleasure of interviewing CTVN alumni Krystal Rivera. Krystal, who graduated from Roberto Clemente School last year, was an advanced apprentice in our video production programs for two years and has continued her work with CTVN as a video services assistant. Recently, she assisted a job recording the audio for a teen employment conference held on the South Side at Chicago Urban League. The conference focused on President Obama’s the American Jobs Act, that aims towards providing $5 billion for training and job opportunities for disadvantaged youth and young adults. Teen unemployment is a serious issue in our city: only 16% of teens and young adults held jobs in Chicago last year, and unemployment was even higher in African Americans and Latino populations.
High school students and young adults from all over the city were given the chance to voice their feelings and concerns about teen unemployment. Krystal’s participation in the conference extended beyond her role as a documentarian, but as a stakeholder as well. Krystal shared her frustration with her and other teen’s situation, “You need a job, there is no alternative to that. Teens are the future of the country, so if you don’t put any support towards jobs then teens will have to drop out of high school to take care of their families…[They] need opportunities for education and employment.”
We sat down with Krystal to hear more. She shared with us the difficult situation many of her friends are in who want to go to college or finish their degrees but can’t because they can’t afford to do so without a source of income. This challenge attributes to youth using and selling drugs and gang violence because it is a way for individuals to make money for their families.
Krystal emphasized not only the need for youth to have jobs but the need for after school programs that teach youth important skills and values like team work, independence, and responsibility. Krystal talked about her experience at After School Matters and how the program changed her life. She came to Community TV Network to learn about filmmaking, not just to make money, but ended up gaining unexpected skills in the process. She stated, “I don’t know how many people came in here for the money and ended up getting interested. It keeps kids off the streets. They are doing something productive, it helps them become educated and it gives them a little bit of pocket money. They are learning to be responsible and to work in groups. I was really bad at working in groups. Being here (CTVN) has taught me how to do that. It’s very important, everywhere you go, you’re going to need that skill”.
Krystal reminds us that youth job opportunities not only provide a source of income, but teach young adults important social and technical skills that they will carry throughout their life. This is the essence of youth empowerment.