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New England News

Employers Urged To Offer Summer Jobs To Youth

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WAMC file photo
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The Massachusetts legislature has funded a program to provide jobs this summer for hundreds of young people in western Massachusetts. A campaign has been launched to encourage teenagers to take advantage of the opportunity and to call on employers to participate in the program.

Applications for the summer jobs will go out this week to high schools and social service organizations in Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and Westfield.  There is funding available to put about 900 young people to work this summer, according to Dave Cruise, president and CEO of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County.

"We still are looking for some work sites for this summer. Part of the campaign is to rally employers and organizations to become involved this summer," said Cruise.

Cruise said the demand for summer jobs almost always exceeds the supply. The unemployment rate for people age 16-19 in Hampden County is almost 28 percent.

"We are not going to be able to service all the young people who are looking for work this summer,but we think we can put together a really good program with the funding we have," he said.

Participants are paid $10 an hour to work 120 hours.  The wage is fully subsidized by the state funding.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse joined with fellow mayors and other elected officials at the summer jobs campaign kickoff event in urging employers to provide work for youth this summer.

"Businesses need to step up and support the program," urged Morse.

Dajah Gordon, a Springfield high school student, said she got a summer job through the program last year doing clerical work.

" They taught me how to budget by money, dress professionally, be there early, and I learned a lot that I can take to other jobs," she said.

Kevin Lynn, executive director of FutureWorks Career Center, said teens who work summer jobs have a leg up when it comes to landing full-time jobs as adults.

" Being able to show an employer that you know how to work is key," he said.

The state legislature this year authorized $11.5 million for the YouthWorks Summer Jobs program. That’s an increase of $1.5 million from last year, according to State Rep. Joe Wagner, the Chicopee Democrat who chairs the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

" Part of the goal in funding this program is to help young people learn skills to get on the road to career pathways.  We are all about creating pathways for economic development," he said.

Hampden County’s share of the state funding this year is $1.4 million.

According to the Pew Research Center, teen summer employment has declined in the United States since the early 1990s. Fewer than a third of teens had a job in the summer of 2014.

Researchers have offered various explanations for the disappearance of the summer job, including fewer low-skill entry-level jobs, a rise in unpaid internships, and higher enrollment in summer school.

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