Jobs tour reveals stories inside California’s millennial workforce problem

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Webbi1987/Wikimedia)

Millennials make up 37 percent of Californias workforce and are expected to represent 50 percent of the workforce by 2025. Irving Pineda is California Outreach Coordinator for the Young Invincibles who just released a report on the Millennials in California. Pineda directed a California Jobs Tour recently, which engaged 200 millennials across California on their job prospects. He agreed to answer a few questions about what he heard.

CA Fwd: Your recent Jobs Tour revealed some challenges for millennials in the job market–did what you find surprise you?

Irving Pineda: “They lack access to employment opportunities, face discrimination in the workplace, or don’t have enough education and training. I was shocked to learn how tough our economy is statewide, even on college grads, but also am encouraged by my peers’ deep sense of drive to succeed.

It was people like Johanna, a young woman from San Pedro, who really stuck out to me. Johanna is a young mother who once had to leave school to care for her child, but she is back, balancing being a mom and paying for school. She is now a student at LA Harbor College and hopes to transfer to a four-year institution to study psychology or conduct scientific research. Johanna is working towards her degree and she also enrolled in a job training program because she hopes that will help her make a better living for herself and her daughter.

If my generation is not succeeding in the job market today, our economy could be in a lot of trouble tomorrow.”

CA Fwd: Our California Economic Summit has revealed that workforce preparation is a–and maybe “the”–key issue for California’s future job growth. What policy initiatives and legislation need to occur to make sure that young people are career ready?

Irving Pineda: “On our jobs tour, we heard routinely that higher education isn’t enough to prepare young adults for today’s workforce. We want to see more job-training programs to help our generation land on its feet. There are many ways California can invest more in programs to boost millennial economic security.

Greater investment in Career and Technical Education would go a long way, for example. There are two big initiatives that we support to achieve this. First, the Career and Jobs Skills Education Act (SB 148), a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Mike McGuire, Connie Leyva, and Robert Huff, would invest $600 million in expanding California CTE programs.

Secondly, the Governor’s 2015 budget proposed a Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program that would spend $750 million over three years on creating and building quality CTE programs that offer skills and practical experience. This proposal differs from the existing and expiring Career Pathways Trust program by requiring a dollar-for-dollar match by recipients, including local educational agencies.”

CA Fwd: There is the growing gap in California–what one of the Summit leaders calls the “two Californias,” one that is getting richer and one that is not getting ahead. Did you see that on the Tour? What do you think are some key things that need to happen to make sure the California dream is attainable for all?

Irving Pineda: “Yes, we confronted this on our jobs tour and through our research. We found, for example, that wages have fallen in the most common sectors for young Millennials by 25 percent in the past 10 years, compared to 8 percent for adults ages 35 and up.

California is expected to have a shortage of 3.2 million college-educated workers by 2025, meaning that young Californians are struggling to access higher education. This means our generation is starting at a very different place economically than our parents previously did post-high school.

Our state legislature needs to address this, and fast. California has cut its higher education budget by 21 percent in the last 6 years. If the state invests more in education and financial aid, it would be much easier for young adults to pursue the education they need to succeed in life.”

CA Fwd: Finally, for your organization, what happens now in this work with millennials and the job market?

Irving Pineda: “We’re working to advance the legislative proposals outlined in our new report. Earlier this month, for example, our Western Director Gustavo Herrera testified before the Workforce Investment Board in L.A. about the need to invest right here in the city in apprenticeship programs.

And we’re going to keep urging our generation to speak up about their job market experiences because we know their stories can be more powerful than statistics. Millennials reading this: get involved. Share your story. Become your own advocate. Educate yourself about your options and get in touch with us at to make your voice heard, or find us on social media!”


Ed Coghlan

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