Labor Dep't Spending $20M on Summer Jobs, 'Career Pathways' for Urban Youth

By Susan Jones | February 5, 2016 | 9:13am EST
When it comes to summer jobs and career pathways, "Too many young people are sitting on the sidelines," the Labor Department says. (AP File Photo)

( - The Labor Department on Thursday announced it will spend $20 million on an effort to create summer jobs and "career pathways" for young people.

Up to $2 million will go to each of 10 local workforce development boards to expand existing summer jobs programs into year-round employment, career pathways and work experience programs for young people, 16 to 24, who have limited or no work experience.

"Too many young people are sitting on the sidelines," the news release noted.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment rate for both sexes, ages 16-19, was 16 percent.

Breaking it down by race, black/African American youth fared worst: The unemployment rate for that group, ages 16-19, was 25.2 percent in Janaury; for Hispanic/Latinos, age 16-19, it was 18.0 percent: and for whites in that age group the unemployment rate was 14.4 percent.

"For a lot of teenagers, a summer job offers a pathway into the workforce, and we know that having a summer job can make all the difference to someone who didn’t get the easiest start in life," Labor Secretary Tom Perez said as he announced the summer jobs program. "There’s plenty of research showing that meaningful employment opportunities can improve job prospects and help keep kids out of the criminal justice system."

Perez said summer and after-school jobs help young people develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, punctuality and problem-solving. "Those skills are essential, and learning them early can help put young people on a path to their next move, whether it’s a job or more education."

He noted that summer jobs are particularly difficult to find in urban areas, and therefore, the $20 million will support "demonstration projects" for youth in high-crime, high-poverty communities.

Program components will include: subsidized and unsubsidized work experience opportunities; individual service strategies or comparable learning plans; work readiness training; financial literacy training; career exploration; case management mentoring; and other supportive services.

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