The (Higher) Cost of Doing Nothing

Inspiring Success - A blog from Creating IT Futures

The (Higher) Cost of Doing Nothing

Feb 24, 2012
YearUpClassroomYear Up is one of several workforce development organizations pointing to the new report
as proof that investing in the nation's youth reaps huge savings and rewards.
In America, we often like to quote that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Unfortunately, the effectiveness of prevention is hard for a government agency or a nonprofit organization to measure and prove. (It’s near impossible to count bad things that fail to happen due to a smart intervention.)

So, instead, our society tends to fund expense mechanisms that react to problems once they do happen.

Fortunately, a unique study has worked to measure the high cost of doing nothing — at least when it comes to jobless youth.

The study was compiled by the White House Council for Community Solutions with the help of researchers from Teachers College Columbia University and the City University of New York. Read it here.

When a youth doesn’t find a job, there is a risk that the person will turn to crime or develop health problems related to poverty and frustration.

The costs of crime, welfare, and emergency healthcare are real costs. There are also losses in tax revenue and other stimulus that the productive individual would have otherwise contributed to our economy.

So, on average, for every young person out of work and not in school, the out-of-pocket cost to society is nearly $14,000 a year, with another $40,000 of productivity lost.

“This lost generation will cost taxpayers $437 billion over the next five years, and $1.15 trillion over the course of their lifetime,” writes Jordan Weissman, associate editor of The Atlantic. “The total impact to the economy will reach $4.7 trillion over the next few decades.” (Read his full post here.)

Weissman continues:

“Whether or not the findings are 100 percent accurate, they're still nauseating. You can blame society for failing these young people. Or you can chalk it up to a personal responsibility. But ultimately, the country needs to find affirmative solutions that will bring these lost youths back into the fold — effective programs that keep them out of jail, in school, and eventually put them in jobs. That, or we'll have to pay for it. Literally.”

We’re highlighting the efforts of one such organization, Year Up, which focuses entirely on helping young adults ages 18-24 in urban areas. The cost to put one student through the year-long program is between $30,000 and $40,000. That sounds from the outset like a lot—until you compare the numbers and realize it’s a huge bargain to taxpayers over the long haul. (Read the full Year Up post here.)

In fact, a well-tuned workforce development program is a moneymaker when you consider the impact that one well-trained worker contributes to the economy over an entire career.

The Creating IT Futures Foundation has been studying workforce development programs such as Year Up closely, seeing what has worked and what can be adapted or repurposed into new programs. (Other great examples include Per Scholas, Fast Forward, and the Stride Center.) This year we’re testing the IT-Ready Apprentice Program model in two locations, Cincinnati and Minneapolis/St. Paul. This eight-week training in technical and professional skills will be followed by a six-month paid apprenticeship with local companies — leading, we believe, to full-time employment for a number of motivated and capable individuals.

If our hunch is right and the employment numbers warrant expanding the program, we’ll move into other cities.

 Those of us at Creating IT Futures have always known that the work we’re doing helps people. Now the numbers show that when our programs succeed, we have a dramatic impact on our country’s bottom line, too.

Get involved. Contact Creating IT Futures or one of the other organizations listed above that makes someone’s dream of self-sufficiency and upward mobility a reality.


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Creating IT Futures

A 501(c)(3) charity was established in 1998 by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry Trade Association, as a way to help people improve their lives through IT careers.


We help populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in IT careers.


Creating IT Futures
c/o CompTIA
3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Phone: (630) 678-8300