Small business owners across the city are encouraged take part in the professional development of at least one young person this summer through the Hire One Youth Campaign sponsored by YouthWorks.

The initiative will not only give city youth a source of income, but an opportunity to hone financial skills and build a strong work ethic.

“The Hire One Youth Campaign is our strategy that encourages local employers to directly hire our young people for the summer,” said Brice Freeman, spokesperson for YouthWorks. Freeman says that while contributions to the program are readily accepted and needed, giving a young person a job goes a long way in helping achieve the goal of increasing employment opportunities for youth.

“Everyone wins when young people are working during the summer,” said Freeman.

“Young people and their families win because they are learning the skills and earning a paycheck. Employers win because they have another set of hands to help do what they need to do to reach their goals.”

The program is open to 14 to 21-year-olds and offers six-week sessions of employment for teens and young adults who are living in the Baltimore area. Over the course of the six weeks, youth are assigned a job coach that visits the place of employment regularly to check the progress of the employee while also providing positive reinforcement to both sides of the operation.

“When I started, under Mayor Shaeffer, we were cleaning the streets of Baltimore City. Now, its more professional businesses that are giving skills needed for the work place,” said Dion Pratt, who was a YouthWorks employee as a teen, and now gives back to the program as an employer through the downtown Baltimore Hilton Hotel.

“These programs increase responsibility, teach about diversity, harassment, and a whole number of things needed to survive in the work place,” said Pratt. To date, the hotel has hired on three YouthWorks employees after program completion for regular part-time and full-time staff positions.

YouthWorks employees are paid the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) and are assigned 25-hour work weeks in fields such as bioscience, data services, health care, hospitality, and tourism. Job readiness training is also available to all participants who are 16 years of age or older.

According to reports done by the US Department of Labor, 48.8 percent of youth last summer were employed during the peak month of July. A decade ago, 63.3 percent of youth and young adults were engaged through summer jobs.

“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do
everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that comes with a job,” said President Obama, in a press release for the new initiative, Summer Jobs+. The new program is meant to further youth employment opportunities across the country.

Last year, in efforts to increase job opportunities for youth, President Obama introduced a section for younger employees in the American Jobs Act. That legislation did not pass.

Registration forms for the YouthWorks can be found at any area high school as well as in the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. The Edmondson, Herring Run, Northwood, and Pennsylvania Avenue branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library are also holding registration forms for interested youth.

The program will run from June 25 to Aug. 3. The deadline for all businesses interested in the Hire One Youth Campaign has been extended o March 31.
For more program information as well as registration forms for interested employers and applications for employees, visit www.oedworks.com/youthserv/index.htm

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer