A New Deal for Youth: The Story of the National Youth Administration

By Betty Grimes Lindley; Ernest K. Lindley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
Challenge to Education

NYA WAS CREATED TO HELP SOME OF THE YOUTHFUL CASUALties of an economic depression. It has found that many of the youth with whom it deals are also educational casualties.

The 500,000 young men and women, 18 to 25 years old, who have been on the NYA out-of-school program in the last two and a half years have on the average attained only eighth grade education. Among all these youth, few have had any kind of occupational training in school or in work. Most of them have been so much crude labor poured onto an employment market already surfeited with crude labor. They are not prepared for the making of a living in modern industrial society. Even if it were running more nearly at capacity, our productive economy would have no place for so vast a number of unskilled workers as are found now in the ranks of the unemployed. With such business recovery as we had in 1935 and 1936, the demand for trained workers in many lines could not be filled by the millions of people who wanted jobs.

These unemployed out-of-school youth are no better prepared for simple subsistence on the land. Many are completely ignorant of the home production skills with which past generations maintained more adequate standards of living with small cash outlay. Some are strangers to such simple tools as the hammer, the saw, and the chisel. Even among farm youth, many know nothing about raising vegetables, fruits, poultry, and livestock for home consumption. Far too many of the girls have no more than a fragmentary knowledge of diet, the prepa-

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