IR #2008-08
February 21, 2008

Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050

Young Worker Leadership Academy teaches teens leadership skills in the workplace

Los Angeles— February 21—California teens are participating in the Young Worker Leadership Academy (YWLA) three-day workshop today on workplace safety and employment rights at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Co-hosted by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) and the California Partnership for Young Worker Health & Safety the workshop runs through Feb. 23 providing approximately 25 teens with leadership training and information about employment rights.

“The Academy is an excellent way to empower our young adults to become leaders and take active roles in learning about their employment rights and how to be safe in the workplace,” Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet said.  “These necessary skills will benefit young workers throughout their lifetime.”

Teens between the ages of 14-17 contribute greatly to California’s economy through summer jobs or part-time work. Unfortunately, 160,000 teens are injured on the job each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety. Some 55,000 of these injuries are serious enough to require hospital treatment and 30 adolescents died from work-related injuries in 2006.

“Every six minutes a teen is injured in the workplace—twice the rate of adults,” said Department of Industrial Relations’ Director John Duncan. “Unfortunately, they know very little about their employment rights or how to be safe on the job. So we developed this program to educate them.”

In its fourth successful year, the Academy selected six teams of future workers between the ages 14-17 from a pool of applicants throughout the state of California to attend the workshop.

Learning to assume leadership roles in the workplace enables teens to speak up when placed in unsafe working conditions or asked to work beyond hours set by California Labor Code governing child labor.

Participants also create projects in their communities to promote workplace safety and share the valuable lesson with their peers.

The California Partnership for Young Worker Health and Safety brings together key representatives from government agencies and statewide organizations that are involved with California youth employment and education. The Young Worker Leadership Academy grew out of the Partnership’s work and is now part of the statewide Worker Occupational Safety and Health Program (WOSHTEP) and was jointly developed by University of California, Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), and the University of California, Los Angeles’ Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program, in consultation with the California Center for Civic Participation, a national leader in the area of youth development and youth governance.  Additional funding has been provided by the California Wellness Foundation.

Editor’s note: Young Academy participants and subject matter experts are available for interviews in their area.