Thursday, June 08, 2006

Summer Jobs

Summer is always an opportunity of one kind or another. When the school year ends, no one should deny L.A.’s kids the opportunity to shout “no more teachers, no more books” and to head for the beach. But it’s up to us as city leaders to decide what kind of opportunity comes next. Is it the opportunity for boredom to fester and explode in our neighborhoods? Or can we extend an opportunity to our young people who can’t see clearly into their own futures? Can we offer them the opportunity that will give them self-respect and hope for the future – not to mention a little pocket money?

The choice is for more than any individual young person who may not see how important job skills and a good education are to his or her future. It’s to the future of our economy. Los Angeles is not facing a jobs gap. We face a skills gap. Employers seeking to fill high-skilled positions can’t get what they need out of our local workforce because our city has let them down.

This summer, let’s start making it up to them. The Mayor and Council have put together Hire L.A. to start connecting young people with opportunities for employment. (The woman in the picture, Monica Gonzalez, got her start in a similar program.) The main program components are:
  • Learn and Earn, which will set up 1400 at-risk students with classes in the morning and a job in the afternoon
  • the Summer Youth Employment Program, which young people can enter via their local WorkSource center or other community-based organizations
  • Los Angeles Public Works, which has slots in its recycling program for sixty young workers, also hired via Worksource centers
  • LA Cityworks, which offers entry-level civil service opportunities to young adults
  • Hire LA 18-24, which calls upon the private sector to provide employment opportunities for 1000 18- to 24-year-olds