Our guest blogger is Noland Chambliss, a member of the Briefcase Brigades.
Ten thousand young people descended on Washington for the Power Shift conference this weekend to call for bold action from government leaders to address climate change and create a clean energy economy for all. Many of these young people had a more specific, and personal, message for Congress: “I need a job.”
Inspired by passionate speeches addressing youth unemployment by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and green jobs visionary Van Jones, the members of the Briefcase Brigades are bringing attention to the epidemic of un- and under-employed millennials:
We are ready to work. We know the economy is in bad shape. We know the country is in trouble. We want to help. But first, we need jobs.
Watch the story of the Briefcase Brigades at Power Shift 2011:
On April 27th, while Congress is in recess and members are back in their districts, young people are creating Briefcase Brigades and going to their offices all around the country to demand Congress prioritize jobs over budget cuts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 5 million young people who are out of work. That doesn’t count people with unpaid internships, people with low-wage jobs that don’t have health insurance, and people who went back to school because they couldn’t find a job.
Chances are you know one of these young people. Someone living with their parents long after they decided they wanted to move out. Someone working their second or third unpaid internship. Someone working several part time jobs, with no health insurance, who still struggles to make ends meet.
What if instead, these young people were given an opportunity to address some of the problems we hear about on television everyday? What if they were given the opportunity to help develop and deploy renewable energy technology? What if they were put to work repairing our crumbling infrastructure? What if they were given a chance to help design and build new products to help us compete with the rest of the world?
Then those youth would be working, paying taxes, paying their own rent, buying things, opening bank accounts and making investments. They might even start their own businesses and create more new jobs. They would be helping to get the economy working again.
Many young people, such as the leaders of WeatherizeDC and Solar Mosaic who came to the Power Shift conference, are already taking steps to create jobs and build a strong green economy. But we should not be left to try and solve the jobs crisis alone. Our elected officials, our representatives, should be a partner to young people in this challenge.
It’s time for Congress to stop talking about cuts and start talking about jobs.
Join us on April 27th. Get dressed up for a job interview, bring your resumé and a briefcase, and a few of your friends too. Go to your local Congressperson’s office and ask them what their plan is to address youth unemployment. Tell them we are ready to work, and ask them “Where are the jobs?”