In the United States, there are 6.7 million young adults ages 16-24 who are out of school and out of work, and the employment rate for 18-24 year olds is the lowest ever recorded since the government began to keep track in 1948. But this challenge of youth underemployment is not just a domestic issue.  According to The McKinsey Company, there are 75 million unemployed young adults in the world today.  Despite this enormous pool of untapped talent, McKinsey also states that 34 percent of employers report that they cannot fill job vacancies due to a lack of both soft and hard skills in applicants.

Last week global youth underemployment was spotlighted at Business Civic Leadership Center’s (BCLC) 2012 Global Corporate Citizenship Conference.  At the event, best-practice companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Hilton Worldwide and Microsoft discussed how youth underemployment continues to plague communities and businesses across the globe, and how companies can work and scale solutions to social barriers and job creation in markets outside the United States.  As Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Microsoft stated, “we see the potential, see the challenge and see where we [Microsoft] can make a difference.”

Also last week in the Huffington Post, Bobbi Silten, President, Gap Foundation and Senior Vice President, Global Responsibility for Gap Inc. published a blog emphasizing the importance of a young adults’ first work experience.  She encouraged companies across the United States to learn how to create work experiences for the young adults in their communities by accessing a toolkit for employers at www.opportunitynation.org/youthandbusiness.

Want to learn more about solutions in talent development and the young unemployment crisis? Visit www.corporatevoices.org.