As difficult as it may be for some to pay to enroll in college these days, it may be more difficult to graduate ... without a job.
Groups representing the generation of students and graduates facing that prospect announced on Thursday a policy agenda for their group, 80 Million Strong For Young American Jobs, a collaborative organization fighting for legislation to create and sustain new jobs. The coalition -- which is named for the 80 million members of the "millennial" generation -- is supported by three organizations representing young people. In a teleconference Thursday, the movement's creators spoke about the pressing problem at hand and 80 Million Strong's legislative plan of action.
"Unemployment numbers are looking grim for our generation, so we seek to a maintain a positive and innovative outlook on these problems," said Maya Enista, co-chair of 80 Million Strong and CEO of mobilize.org. "We think young people can solve these problems."
Matthew Segal, co-chair of 80 Million Strong and executive director of the Student Association for Voter Empowerment, listed four main legislative goals for the organization during Thursday's teleconference:
- Focusing on entrepreneurship: The hope is that through lower interest loans specifically for young people, there will be sufficient motivation for millennials to start companies, business ventures and nonprofit organizations. "If we are going to create jobs and pull out of the recession," Segal said, "young people need help and access to start companies."
- Preventing college debt and encouraging public service careers: Segal said that right now, student loans can only be deferred for six months after graduation, which makes it hard when the average graduate leaves college with $27,000 in debt. This makes public service careers particularly burdening, since students don't make enough through those jobs to pay back their loans.
- Creating jobs in the mission-critical job sector: In fields like health, there are many jobs that can be created to go along "with the rise in geriatric care." Other sectors like national defense and cyber-security provide careers that millenials are poised to take over.
- Concentrating on green jobs: Sustainability efforts could, with a little help, lead to new jobs in the green sector. Construction, research, and a focus on energy solutions all provide opportunities for young people to join the workforce.
The coalition will discuss and approve more concrete plans of action at its national summit in Washington next month.