Interest in summer jobs programs has spiked in many areas, according to experts speaking during a recent event hosted by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. In 2015, close to 116,000 youths participated in summer jobs programs across the country, according to a US Conference of Mayor’s report.
Some city leaders and policymakers presenting at the event suggested summer jobs programs allow young adults to gain valuable work experience while developing a professional network.
“Kids that have participated in our program go on to work at a much higher rate, and go on to postsecondary education at a higher rate than similarly situated kids who aren’t in the program,” said Michael Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks, which offers a number of paid summer jobs for youths between the ages of 16 to 21 in hands-on assistant or support-based positions.
Summer youth programs provided through KentuckianaWorks open the door for youths that may not initially have the resources to prepare for in-demand careers, according to Gritton.
“When you’re trying to address whether it’s poverty alleviation or whether it’s trying to just connect young people who are not involved with the world of work into that world, you immediately come to the opportunity of a summer jobs program as a way to bridge that gap,” Gritton said.
Currently, $1,341 is the average weekly earning for those with a bachelor’s degree opposed to $493 for those with less than a high-school education, according to a July Brookings report on youth summer jobs program. For those who face barriers to postsecondary education, any positive work experience can affect a young person’s future, researcher Jeylan Mortimer, who is cited in the report, suggests.
“[K]ids are connected when they have a job,” said Kerry Sullivan, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Bank of America is committing $40 million over the next three years for youth development. These positions in government, nonprofit and the private sector aim to develop transferable skills suitable for a future in a science, technology, engineering or math career.
Young adults taking initiative may not be enough because of the limited number of programs available, some experts suggested. The mayors of cities that offer these developmental summer jobs need to communicate the importance of these programs to potential employers and those on the outside, said the Michael Nutter, former mayor of Philadelphia.
Program leaders must aim to accommodate the demand for these positions to deliver the career knowledge and hands-on experience youths are looking to gain, said Nutter
“We exceeded our goal; we did a little over 10,000 [jobs]. Fantastic, but there were 18,000 applicants. Not good,” Nutter added.
Christopher Ruiz is a student at the University of Maryland and is SmartBrief’s 2016 editorial summer intern.
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