By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher
Over two years ago, the publisher of this newspaper suggested to the Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, that the City of San Diego should have a Youth Employment Policy. Such a policy should place a youth between the ages of 14 and 21 within each agency of city government for a minimum of 8 hours a week. Such jobs as youth internships would pay no less than a stipend of $10.00 per hour. For example, each city agency would build $80.00 a week times 4 into its budget. This would amount to about $2000.00 per year per city agency.
To facilitate this process, the City of San Diego should create a Commission on Youth Education and Employment. The present Commission of Gang Prevention should be abolished. It has no real staff function or outreach geared toward the majority youth of this city. Its very existence in lieu of the Youth Education and Employment Commission proposed here, suggests that more youth are interested in crime than developing meaningful futures.
The dollars that the various agencies contribute to gang prevention discussions could be put to a more meaningful purpose.
The City’s Human Resources Department should be expanded to coordinate efforts to hire and place youth in city agencies by working with the Commission on Youth Education and Employment.
The Workforce Partnership cannot and should not be a substitute for a Youth Employment Policy and Program operated by the City of San Diego. The Partnership is basically a federally funded program that has never been intended for more than a select few youths, leaving the masses unemployed and basically abandoned each year.
The Commission on Youth Education and Employment would provide year-round employment opportunities, but like the neighborhood Youth Program did under the Old Economic Opportunity Act. Since transportation is a key element to such youth employment, the City of San Diego should ask the Metropolitan Transit System to provide a bus/trolley card to cover either transportation cost for travel to and from work or to make it available at such a reduced rate that the youth could afford to work without spending all their income on transportation.
The number of youth employment opportunities under this proposal would be prorated among members of the City Council’s nine districts on an equal basis with council members having the right to share or exchange positions. All done working through the Commission and its coordinated efforts with the City of San Diego’s Human Resources Department.
This effort does not seek to replace the Workforce Partnership. What it does is seek to have the City of San Diego take authority and responsibility for its youth employment programs and policies. That responsibility should not be delegated just because the federal government created such a program as the Workforce Partnership years ago.
More than fifty years ago, youth employment was important to this nation and its cities. At that time, the National Alliance of Business made dollars available in matching funds from the U.S. Congress to provide summer youth jobs. The publisher of this newspaper worked on these programs as a staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. He was hired a few years earlier under a summer youth program which grew into a life changing career, a law degree and years as an elected official. What can happen today if we give some of the same opportunities to the youth of the City of San Diego?
These are not new ideas. Perhaps this time of budget considerations might be at last a chance to make this a reality for the youth of San Diego and go beyond the police and gang prevention.