Community Forums Network Round 1:“Where’s the consensus?” ReportSummary of survey findings on young adult employmentDownload the PDFSummary by Executive Director: Carrie Shaw
Analysis by: Suzanne Pak
Technology Management: John Spady
Project Management: Fawn Spady
Design: Sigurd Gustafsson
Date: July 19, 2012Table of ContentsIt is a generation being defined by what it doesn’t have – life’s first time or entry-level jobSurvey HighlightsWhere’s the consensus?CFN Partner Organizations3. Community service and skill building programs offered by youth development organizations provide the opportunity for young adults and youth to gain critical skills. Where should the funds come from?6. The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults7. In general, do you support the idea of a special training wage for young adults (ages 16-19) during the first 3-12 months of their employment, as a way to encourage more employers to hire inexperienced young adults?8. Do you believe business involvement in the government’s current “workforce training” system is critical to training the skilled employees necessary to increasing economic growth and job opportunities?9. In your view, what is the best approach to delivering workforce skills? Please choose your ONE best answer10. What do you think is the single best approach to increase employment among young adults (age 16 -24)? Please choose your one best answerWhat is a PC Rating™?Disclaimer Clause It is a generation being defined by what it doesn’t have – life’s first time or entry-level job.
The Seattle Times in a recent series called them the “Recession Generation;” young adults and teens facing unprecedented levels of unemployment and a highly competitive job market, including 1 in 2 recent college graduates either unemployed or underemployed.
Washington State currently has the nation’s 9th lowest young adult employment rate, ages 16 to 24, with 43% of young adults employed according to the U.S. Labor Dept. Given the depth and timeliness of the young adult jobs crisis, Community Forums Network (CFN) decided to launch their first statewide “round” of in-person forums and an online survey on the topic of “How to improve young adult employment.”
From May 3 through June 17, 2012, over 2,300 people shared their opinions on the urgent need to address the root causes of, and potential long-term solutions for the Recession Generation. Whether it was a gathering of business owners, DECA high school students, or homeless women in a local shelter, consensus emerged on the need to tackle the issue of young adult employment from many angles with government, private sector, community and education-based solutions.
Of the 10 survey questions asked of citizens, key areas of agreement emerged:
- A public-private approach. When asked where the funding should come from, 68% of respondents selected “both the private and public sectors” need to fund opportunities for youth and young adults to gain critical skills.
- A strong economy creates jobs for everyone. A combined 79% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement; “The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults.”
- Retool public education to meet workforce training needs. Respondents favored school-based programs such as a vocational track, internships, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurship training. A majority of African-Americans selected “school-based training,” and at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.
- A training wage with limits. 69% of respondents supported the idea of a training wage when it had a time limit. The idea of a training wage was ranked lower as a cost-effective idea when it was listed along with other ideas that included creating financial incentives for businesses to hire young people and expanding summer youth employment programs.
- Businesses need to be a part of the equation. 69% support the idea of businesses being involved in the government’s current “workforce training” system. This idea was supported across age, ethnicity demographics and whether or not a respondent had hired a young adult.
This “Where’s the consensus?” Report highlights those areas where agreement emerged and provides more details on the demographic breakdown of survey responses. A more detailed analysis of the full report including respondents’ comments, and the polarization/consensus rating methodology can be accessed at:
www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org under “Topic Reports”
As a statewide public engagement platform, CFN’s mission is to bring people together to talk about issues, to share their ideas, and to discover where we agree on possible solutions.
CFN is not an advocacy organization and does not make policy recommendations. It is our hope and goal that insights gathered from Washington citizens are useful to policy decision-makers in creating a more solutions-based approach to the challenges we face in our communities.
Polarization/Consensus rating methodologySuzanne Pak
Community Outreach Manager
Survey analysis and Full ReportFawn Spady
Project ManagerSigurd Gustafsson
DesignCFN Partner Organizations
At the heart of CFN’s mission to discover consensus on issues, is a statewide network of diverse, nonprofit organizations representing education, social services, youth development, business, workforce, and community service areas and interests. CFN currently has 25 Partner organizations that participate during a topic round by hosting forums and promoting the online survey to their members and supporters.
Round 1 Partner Organizations
- Alliance of People with disAbilities
- Association of WA Businesses
- Boys & Girls Clubs of King County/YouthForce
- Chinese Information & Service Center
- City Club Seattle
- Come Clean
- Compass Housing Alliance
- Council on American Islamic Relations
- El Centro de la Raza
- Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- Issaquah Chamber of Commerce
- Issaquah History Museums
- Mary’s Place
- Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce
- Omak Chamber of Commerce
- Renton Technical College
- Solid Ground
- Union Gospel Mission
- Treehouse for Kids
- Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation
- WA Business Week
- WA Federation of Independent Schools
- WA Policy Center
- WA Restaurant Association Education Foundation
- Woodland Park Zoo
Media Partner: PugetSoundOff.org
Nonprofit organizations can earn grants up to a total of $4,000 for 2012. Partners earn points based on the number of survey responses that they generate during a topic round. Of the 2,328 survey responses generated, 809 were from forums and 1,519 were online surveys. Top grant recipients for Round 1 included:
- Silver Grant ($1,500): Compass Housing Alliance, Council on American Islamic Relations, and Washington Policy Center
- Bronze Grant ($1,000): Woodland Park Zoo
- Dick Spady Legacy Grant ($1,000): Union Gospel Mission
- $500 Grant: Boys & Girls Clubs of King County/YouthForce
- $300 Grant: Association of WA Business, Mary’s Place, WA Business Week
- $100 Grant: Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, Treehouse for Kids, Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation, WA Restaurant Association
“As an organization dedicated to defending civil rights, empowering American Muslims and promoting mutual understanding, we are proud to partner with CFN in a project that aims to find solutions to issues facing an increasing number of our community members.”“We are also grateful to CFN for the grant which will help us carry out our important community service programs.”~ Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-WA
Funds for the CFN partner grants are provided by the Spady Family of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, Inc.
Survey Questions3. Community service and skill building programs offered by youth development organizations provide the opportunity for young adults and youth to gain critical skills. Where should the funds come from?
- This question had a high degree of Consensus, with 68% selecting ” Both the private and public sectors.” High degree of polarization is generally assumed with any funding question, so it is encouraging to see that most respondents want to see greater degree of partnership and shared responsibility between government and private sector.
- 16-24 year olds (22%) and Asian Americans (18%) are more likely to support government funding of youth organizations, compared to 55+ year olds (5%) and Caucasians (7%). Conversely, 55+ year olds (21%) and Caucasians (17%) are more likely to support private sector funding, than 16-24 year olds (13%) and Asian Americans (11%). (Appendix 3)
6. The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults.
- This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a combined 69% of respondents Agreeing or Strongly Agreeing. This is consistent with comments we saw from the surveys and heard from the forums, where older adults also expressed concern for availability of jobs for older adults.
- Interestingly, 16-24 year olds were less likely to Agree (54%) than 55+ year olds (74%). This may reflect the concern of young adults that there exists systemically higher unemployment for young adults, and that employment levels for their age group may not bounce back right away with improvement in the economy. (Appendix 6)
7. In general, do you support the idea of a special training wage for young adults (ages 16-19) during the first 3-12 months of their employment, as a way to encourage more employers to hire inexperienced young adults?
- This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a 69% of respondents saying Yes. This is interesting, given the high degree of polarization generally assumed by the media and elected officials on this topic.
- 25-34 year olds are more likely to oppose the training wage (27%) than 55+ year olds (19%). (Appendix 7)
- Hispanic Americans are more likely to oppose the training wage (28%) than African-Americans (12%). (Appendix 7)
8. Do you believe business involvement in the government’s current “workforce training” system is critical to training the skilled employees necessary to increasing economic growth and job opportunities?
- This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a 69% of respondents saying Yes. Surprisingly, this question also has a portion of Abstain’s (13%), equal to that of more complex rank ordering questions #1 and #5.
- There wasn’t much polarization of answers across Age Groups, Ethnicity, or Hired Young Adults vs. Not.
- The number one response (36%) was “Offer vocational track in high schools again.” This is echoed by what we heard from the forums, where young adults expressed desire to learn a trade (e.g. construction, manufacturing, auto repair, becoming an electrician, or \becoming a chef) and found it hard to gain these skills in high school. Business owners also expressed desire to hire young adults in these fields, but unable to take the time to teach everything from scratch.
- Number two response (29%) is “Provide incentives for businesses to take the lead in providing workforce training.” This is consistent with comments we’ve seen in surveys, with suggestions to provide tax breaks to those who hire young adults or entry level workers and provide on-the-job training.
- Interestingly, 16-24 year olds were more likely to select “Expand existing workforce training/ worksource programs” (31%), in contrast to the other age groups. (Appendix 9)
- The number one response (41%) was “School-based training and youth development programs: Increase state funding for vocational and technical curriculum, high school internships, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training.” This is consistent with the leading solution provided on Question 9 (” Offer vocational track in high schools again”). It points to a recognition by respondents that in addition to business incentives and the economy, there also exists a workforce readiness/ skills gap that is not currently being addressed in schools.
- 25-34 year olds were more likely select “School-based training and youth development programs” as top choice (47%), compared to 45-54 year olds (36%). Conversely, 45-54 year olds were more likely to select “New legislation: Allow for a training wage, reform industry regulations, revise the Business and Occupation tax structure” as top choice (23%). compared to 25-34 year olds (11%).
- Majority of African-Americans selected “School-based training and youth development programs” as top choice (52%), higher than any answer selected on this question by any other ethnic group.
Key Comments for Question 10:
- At Moses Lake High School in our Career and Technical Education Department we have real business connected to the classes. They not only create a business learning environment, but the students get job experience without being employed. We treat our classes like a business. We have the only operating Cafe in the Nation for our culinary students. We build boats in Manufacturing Technology and sell to the public, and have a latte stand that makes $40,000 a year as well as our own floral shop, catering class, and video production studio. All of our students leave with real job skills for the world of work. All schools could do this.
The PC RatingTM, or “Polarization/Consensus RatingTM“ is a tool to measure the “weight” or value of the total responses to a question on a scale from 0 to 100.
A Polarization Rating (weight given a question) of 100% means that everyone participating answered “yes” or “no” and nobody selected “abstain” or “object.” A Polarization Rating of 50% means that half of those participating answered “yes” or “no” and half selected either “abstain” or “object.”
- A 100% Consensus Rating means “all responses favor the positive side of the scale.
- A 0% Consensus Rating means “all responses favor the negative side of the scale.”
- A 50% consensus rating means “there is no consensus.”
Think of it as an image of a seesaw and grouping of people to one side or the other. The PC Rating is useful in comparing responses to a series of questions, to compare the response of different groups to the same question, or of the same group to different but related questions.
As introduction to the methodology, we have provided two samples using the geographical breakdown on Questions 6 and 7. For more information and details on the following data, go to www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org and click on “Topic Reports”
- Additional breakouts of survey data
- Polarization/Consensus Ratings
- Comments from survey participants
CFN Observation on Question 6: A plurality of 43% participants agree (and over 2/3 majority of participants agree or strongly agree) with this statement. This remains consistent regardless of geography — by and large, eastern and western Washington participants hold similar opinions.
CFN Observation on Question 7: A 2/3 majority of participants support the idea of a special training wage for young adults. This remains consistent regardless of geography and even stronger support is indicated among participants outside of Seattle proper.
Disclaimer ClauseDownload the PDF
The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the individuals who participated and do not necessarily represent the views of Community Forums Network or the participating partner organizations.
These results may not be representative of the entire state of Washington, and are the compilation of those individuals who, through their participation, expressed their interest and opinions about the topic at a specific point in time. As humans we all have the ability to receive new information, consider it, and change our views.