San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation Champions Youth Summer Jobs.
Do you remember your first job? You were probably about 16-years-old, you may have worked after school or during the summer months, and most likely, your job was not particularly glamorous.
For generations, Americans learned the value of showing up on time, taking direction, interacting with customers and meeting goals through work experiences during our high school years. Yet for many of today's young people, work experience—and all of the rich life lessons that come along with it—is out of reach, and we risk an untold negative impact on our future.
Youth employment also delivers an immediate economic stimulus, as nearly every dollar paid to young people is spent in the local economy. A 2009 study by the San Diego Workforce Partnership calculated the economic impact of youth employment on the region at $5.5 million.
Work experience during teen and young adult years has a positive impact on an individual's employment opportunities and lifelong earnings. Youth employment improves educational attainment, promotes community development, creates a trained and skilled workforce and stimulates economic advancement. That is why the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is promoting the Hire-A-Youth program, managed by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
EDC's mission is to attract high-wage, technology-driven companies to the region from around the world, assist those here with expansion plans and to champion foundational efforts to improve the region's competitiveness. Founded in 1964, EDC is a private, nonprofit organization supported by more than 140 of the region's largest companies and most influential business leaders. EDC's goal for 2011 is to facilitate 1,500 new high-wage jobs in the region as part of its 2020 jobs-development strategy.
By 2020, more than 70 million U.S. baby boomers will retire, while only 40 million people will enter the workforce.
"Summer jobs have been linked to lower high school dropout rates and increased college completion rates," EDC's CEO Bill Geppert tells Giving Back Magazine. "Our economic vitality requires the best and brightest to support San Diego's diverse economy. We cannot afford to lose a single student."
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the full employment rate for teens in the workforce reached an all-time low last summer with only 28.6 percent of our nation's teens employed. In our poorest communities, less than 10 percent of teens had summer jobs.
Beginning two summers ago, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded Hire-A-Youth programs across the country. Today while federal funding for youth employment program is receding, in San Diego momentum is building. Carefusion, Jack in the Box, Qualcomm, SeaWorld and smaller companies across the region are employing hundreds of young people. It's not too late to get involved.
"Providing one job can change a life, support your community and improve our economic outlook for the future, said Geppert. "Where else can you get that return on investment?"
A summer job can also have a life changing impact. It did for Michael Gaulden. In 2009, Michael participated in the Hire-A-Youth Program, Michael, his sister and his mother had been living in a car and struggling with homelessness and hunger. A summer job allowed him to provide food and shelter to his family. Working in a maintenance position in a local school, Michael's first paycheck of two-hundred and seventy-nine dollars went to buy food, toiletries and gas for the car so his mother could get to work. In the months that followed, Michael and his mother were able to earn enough money to move into an apartment. In Michael's own words: "Our days of struggling with homelessness are over."Michael networked his way into a part-time job during the school year and was exposed to business leaders, who have inspired him to start his own business. He also gained access to a program that helped him apply to college, earn numerous scholarships and he was accepted to UCLA, where he is currently studying business administration and marketing. All of these experiences were made possible through one summer job.
This summer, Michael is back in San Diego working as an intern at the San Diego Regional EDC through the Hire-a-Youth program.