Black families should follow the example of Asians in forming their own small businesses and employing their own children. Schools should use their own students to produce goods and provide school services to encourage black entrepreneurship.
Computers should be used to set up national job banks for blacks and to match skilled adults with youths they can help bring along in their professions. And black teen-agers should be given intensive 'Hope Therapy' to get them through unemployment without emotional scars.
These were some of the recommendations yesterday at a National Conference on Black Youth Unemployment at Howard University, where about 100 educators, government officials and labor and business leaders gathered to search for solutions to black youth unemployment.
The conference was designed as something of a mass brainstorming session, focusing on ways to relieve the problem rather than dwelling on the crisis itself. Black youth unemployment nationwide was 45.4 percent in February, and was near 90 percent in some urban areas.
The sponsors had hoped that several nationally recognized figures would participate to bring more attention to their efforts, but some of the more notable names on their list failed to appear.
Conference coordinator Cecile H. Edwards, dean of the Howard School of Human Ecology, said nonetheless that those who did attend "are of very high stature in the manpower field" who will go home with "new strength and new blood."
Former member of Congress Shirley Chisholm in a keynote address told the group that "the conservative flood washed out the bridge to full employment." She said Reagan's plan for a lower minimum wage for youths would do little more than take jobs from adults.
The jobs bill wending its way through Congress is nothing for blacks to get carried away about, Chisholm added.
"You are going to be in for a tremendous surprise" when the bill goes into effect, she said. "These jobs are not going to be going to the structurally unemployed that categorize the black population in America."
Many conference participants pinned their hopes for the future of black youth employment on job training. Matthew Shannon, acting director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, warned that local black officials will have to put job-training systems in place quickly or lose federal dollars for these programs.
"Elected officials are divvying up the turf of America," Shannon said. "We had better carve out a piece of the pie for black youths."
Elmer Thompson, 18, one of about 10 unemployed District youths who attended the conference, said he got some ideas and encouragement from it. Thompson said he dropped out of school two months ago and had been unable to find a job or get into a job-training program to study electronics.