City increases funds to tackle joblessness among teens, young adults


With teens and young adults facing a tough summer job market, city leaders, local businesses and workforce advocates are joining together to kick off the “Hire-A-Youth Summer Job Symposium” and announce new funding to grow the jobs program.

According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than three in 10 teenagers now hold summer jobs – the lowest level since World War II. In addition, more than 44 percent of teens who want summer jobs don’t get them or work fewer hours than they prefer.

To help combat those bleak numbers, the City of San Diego recently pledged $200,000 in funding to expand the Hire-A-Youth program. The local jobs campaign gives young adults ages 16 to 21 access to summer job and internship opportunities as well as provides help with job-readiness training, résumé writing and interview skills.

Council President Tony Young, who lobbied President Barack Obama to bring the youth jobs program to San Diego in 2009, said developing San Diego’s workforce of the future is a critical component in growing the local economy. It is estimated that for every $1 spent on Hire-A-Youth, there’s a $1.91 direct impact to San Diego’s economy.

“This program links our young people with opportunities to gain valuable work experience, and helps us grow our local economy and prepare our future skilled workforce,” said Council President Tony Young. “This is a great example of how the public and private business sector are coming together to create more jobs in all neighborhoods.”

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who chairs the Economic Development and Strategies Committee, said the recurring refrain she hears from local businesses is the need for more and better workforce development training. Lightner has pledged at least $25,000 from her office budget to help expand Hire-A-Youth.

“This really is an investment in our future,” Lightner said. “We need to grow our Hire-A-Youth program so all of our teens and young adults have the job skills they need to be a productive part of our local workforce.”

Nathaniel Buggs, interim president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, which runs the Hire-A-Youth program, applauded the city’s renewed focus on job training for teens and young adults.

“Progressive cities that make a commitment to invest in their future workforce and youth are the pipeline for building a globally competitive workforce,” Buggs said. “Today, the City of San Diego has displayed sound economic leadership by investing in opportunities to provide youth with career readiness and job training. I applaud Mayor Sanders, Council President Young and Councilmember Lightner along with the rest of the City Council in supporting this important initiative of exposing youth to the world of work.”

--Staff Reports