ROCKFORD (WREX) — Illinois has the worst youth unemployment rate in the Midwest and COVID-19 only made it worse. One local organization works to solve that problem.
Illinois saw a 40% drop in teen employment compared to last year, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
Extended bouts of youth unemployment affects future job earnings, unemployment later on and crime rates, the Illinois Policy Institute said.
Youthbuild, part of Comprehensive Community Solutions, helps local 16- to 24-year-olds earn their high school diploma while learning employable skills through on-the-job training.
The program has served Rockford for more than 30 years.
"There has to be something to catch those young people and still mold them to be a productive citizen in their community," William Chatman, Executive Director of Comprehensive Community Solutions, said.
Chatman, a Youthbuild graduate, worked his way to executive director after completing the program in his youth.
His experience inspired him to continue serving those who were like him in the Rockford community.