April 2022 Oy Bifold Pie Chart

In 2020, more than 10% of San Diego County’s 401,000 youth aged 16–24 were out of school and unemployed.

Of this total, 68% were not actively looking for work. While San Diego’s youth disconnection rate rose significantly in 2020 amidst the pandemic recession, it remained below the statewide and national averages.

Data on youth disconnection can help us understand the challenges young people face and is essential for designing and implementing interventions that lead to meaningful change. Reducing youth disconnection and the barriers to employment and education is critically important to the health of San Diego’s communities and economy.

Disconnection is often the result of systemic inequities beyond young people’s control. They are not “disconnected youth,” they are “opportunity youth.” Everyone has value to offer, no one wants to be disconnected and all deserve the opportunity to thrive. However, in a complicated and fast-changing world, inequities and societal challenges exacerbate divides. To reduce gaps in the disconnection rate between communities, we must do more than connect individual youth to education and employment. We can do better. We must do better. 

April 2022 Oy Bifold Line Chart2

Young adulthood is a critical time in a young person’s life for providing hope and opportunity. It is our opportunity to empower them. This challenge is one of the largest our community must address with urgency, resolve and innovation.

High rates of youth disconnection impact all of us. This crisis of lack of opportunity has implications on public safety, civic stability, social mobility, public heath and our region’s ability to develop the talent needed to support employers and regional prosperity.  

Reconnection and providing opportunity is possible—and happening every day.

How we’re working together to reduce disconnection


Mentor Edited

The Workforce Partnership is a hub for young adults where they can access innovative programs, education, training and employment services. We provide career center services to all young adults and work in tandem with community-based organizations to serve all youth, with an emphasis on: 

  • Black youth 
  • Youth experiencing homelessness 
  • Immigrant, refugee and English language learner (ELL) youth 
  • Justice-involved youth 

Youth can connect to services at workforce.org/getajob.  


There is power and opportunity created through professional connections and networks. Our mentorship program pairs program participants with successful professionals to help them build the social capital necessary to succeed in their desired career fields. Mentors offer support in the development of technical and essential skills and serve as a source of growth, knowledge, support and accountability.  


Data helps us understand the challenge and enables a strategy for reversing disconnection. We use data to inform our investment priorities and program strategy.

Opportunity Summit

The Opportunity Summit convenes key stakeholders so that we can collaboratively increase opportunity for young adults in San Diego County. The summit is a diverse gathering of young adults, employers, workforce professionals, service providers, educators, funders, parents, community members, elected leaders and more. There is great power in convening and building on real results.

Key takeaways: