Participation up in city's summer youth employment program
Participation in the city of Pittsburgh’s Summer Youth Employment Program has almost doubled over last year, and a task force named by Mayor William Peduto is working on expanding the program further in 2015.
At the start of the program 521 youths were participating, up from 319 in the summer of 2013. More than 1,300 applied for positions this year, however, so a Mayoral Task Force on Summer Youth Employment Opportunities named by the mayor is seeking ways to give all qualified applicants a job opportunity in the future.
“The goal is for young people to learn and earn. We want to find meaningful employment experiences for every qualified applicant to the program,” said Debbie Lestitian, the city’s chief administration officer and the task force’s co-chair.
Dr. Curtiss Porter, the fellow co-chair and the city’s chief education and neighborhood investment officer, said “we need to extend young people’s careers from the opportunity that is gained in the summers to deeper vocational experiences that connect to higher education and technical careers. That reinforces their commitment to the city as a great place to live and to grow, and in the final analysis, that makes sure their summers are worthwhile.”
Applicants must be between ages 14 and 21. They are paid $7.25 per hour and work six hours per day in more than 100 work sites citywide, largely in crews maintaining properties and parks, or in internships in public and private business offices.
The task force is moving on four interrelated tracks to expand the program further: partnerships, which is studying new or improved job placement sites; marketing, to expand knowledge of the program; curricula, which focuses on making the summer jobs building blocks for future careers; and funding, to help the city underwrite more jobs.
The program, budgeted at $1.15 million this year, is funded by block grant and operating budget money.
Mayor Peduto created the task force through an executive order in February. It has held three meetings and will meet again at the end of the summer.