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Summer jobs are a perfect time to build financial skills for young people

This time last year, more than 2 million young Americans were starting summer jobs. This year, many more will do the same.

For young people, particularly those between the ages of 16-24 who may be entering the workforce for the first time, developing good money management skills is critical. Without the necessary financial knowledge and skills, many will not develop money management habits, trapping them in a future with limited savings, high debt, or compromised credit.

The right opportunity

While we’ve got some ideas for how parents can talk to their kids about money, youth summer employment programs present a unique opportunity to reach young people with important financial messages and products at a time when they are building habits that may last throughout their working lives.

Last winter, we held a roundtable to take a look at how communities can add financial knowledge, skills, and access to financial products to youth employment programs. We heard some great ideas and strategies for doing this, including:

  • Tailoring financial education to meet the needs of young people
  • Selecting financial products by weighing the costs and risks of various options
  • Developing programs with input and engagement with young people
  • Integrating partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, financial institutions, and young people

Youth programs recognize the need

The roundtable discussion also revealed that many programs that train and employ youth recognize the need to help them develop financial skills but too often they don’t have the time, expertise, or resources to do so. In many cases it’s challenging to find the right financial education partners; sometimes it’s the lack of a financial institution that will provide accounts for youth. Some institutions are hesitant to open accounts for youth because of the temporary nature of some employment programs, while others are concerned about account ownership for consumers under age 18.

We’ve developed new tools to help communities that want to include financial skills as part of their youth employment programs. This summer we’ll be collaborating with several communities to pilot these new tools. We’ll incorporate feedback from these sites at the end of the summer and share the materials for wider distribution to other communities next year.

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