The Rutgers Youth Success Program represents an opportunity to continue providing support to vulnerable youth in Camden, NJ and statewide with specialized service and connections to new employment opportunities, while also supporting economic recovery and addressing growing demand for transportation and infrastructure workers in the Northeast region.
Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP) operates job readiness and career exploration programs with wraparound support for youth facing significant barriers to success in schools and at work — addressing a crisis in our public institutions, in which it has become all too easy for youth to slip from schooling into the justice system.
At the same time, the New Jersey economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent infrastructure bill passed by U.S. Congress represents a renewed focus on the state of good repair of critical transportation systems.
In the Northeast specifically, given our aging infrastructure, growing populations, creation of complex high-density regions, effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the impacts of climate change, there is significant demand for workers within the transportation and infrastructure force. For example, NJ was one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19 and even now with a 66% statewide vaccination rate, only 60% of jobs lost have been recovered and unemployment remains high at 7.2% compared to 4.8% nationwide.
Supply chain delays have been felt here as well. Ocean carrier costs have jumped approximately ten times since late 2019, affecting ports, businesses, and people in the state. This means increased costs and waiting times for hospital ventilators, construction materials, and more. These delays were exacerbated when Hurricane Ida struck the region in September 2021, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage, stalling transportation, and leaving people waiting for supplies.
Recognizing the need to support vulnerable youth in NJ communities as well as the opportunity to support economic recovery in the state, CAIT and RYSP will leverage its existing interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships to help place under-represented and justice-challenged young people in transportation careers under this New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development grant.
These job and career opportunities may include positions in shipping and logistics such as truck drivers, mechanics, and forklift operators; or roadway maintenance for a State or County entity; among other opportunities. CAIT and RYSP are prepared to support young people in selecting from these and other viable career options in transportation, provide the training and paid work experience necessary for success, fill system gaps in under-recognized areas of workforce need, and help our youth overcome the barriers that have prevented pathways to success in the past.