3 key policies to support young parents via workforce development

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, August 27, 2020

A new brief from National Skills Coalition highlights three touchstones for policymakers to keep in mind when developing interventions to support young parents. The brief, Young Parents and Workforce Development in a Post-Pandemic World, is available now.

There are approximately 4.5 million American parents who are between the ages of 18-24. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, many young parents faced significant challenges in balancing their jobs and childrearing responsibilities with efforts to build additional skills and advance in their careers.

As policymakers and workforce advocates adapt o a pandemic-affected world, ensuring that skill-building policies are intentionally inclusive of this population can help to ensure a level playing field for all of America’s workers, regardless of their age or parental status.


A holistic approach to workforce

While NSC’s recommended policies center on workforce development and education, research shows that it is vital for them to also include the ancillary supports — such as childcare, tuition, and transportation assistance — that are necessary for young parents to attain their education and career goals.

As policymakers take action to support young parents and other constituents who are scrambling to find their economic footing, three touchstones will be crucial to incorporate. In each case, advocates and policymakers should be mindful that the enactment of strong policies should be supported with appropriate amounts of funding, guidance, and technical assistance to enable high-quality implementation at the state and local level.


Policy touchstones to inform action

  • Invest in accelerated pathways. Strategies such as Integrated Education and Training, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), and guided pathways have demonstrated effectiveness in helping individuals with skill gaps, which include many young parents, to quickly prepare for in-demand jobs.
  • Respond to evolving digital inclusion needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid existing discrepancies in home broadband internet access, digital device access, and digital literacy skills. People of color are disproportionately affected by these disparities, as are parents. Given that many young parents are people of color, it is important to ensure that new policies to support education and workforce development in a pandemic-affected world help to remedy rather than magnify equity gaps.
  • Provide high-quality childcare. It’s so straightforward a solution that it may seem difficult to believe that most workforce programs don’t fund childcare for their participants. But many programs do not have the resources to provide such services, thus leaving young parents burdened with figuring out their own childcare arrangements. Policymakers and skills advocates should create and expand investments in high-quality childcare programs for workforce development participants, including young parents.

Learn more about each of these touchstones in the full Young Parents and Workforce Development in a Post-Pandemic World report.