Dr. John E. Warren
Fifty years ago under the late President John F. Kennedy, America had a Summer Youth Program to provide jobs for young people ages 14 to 21. While some of the jobs were funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, there was also a national commitment from the National Alliance of Business, i.e. the private sector, to also provide jobs within their business and industries. Fifty years later, with an African American President in the White House, there is not national commitment to youth unemployment. Locally, the umbrella agency, Workforce Partnership will provide some jobs, but those will not reach the kids in our communities with the same level of concern and commitment reflected fifty years ago.
There is no real commitment to youth employment in San Diego and this is of particular significance since less than 10 years ago, the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) held a major meeting at the New Creation Church with a view toward planning future employment for our youth.
Perhaps today, in the absence of leadership on this issue (and note this problem started long before Mayor Faulconer who has already addressed needs of recreation, libraries and after school funding in his recent budget came to office), we the community can bring some pressure on this issue.
The Voice & Viewpoint proposes that we the community, ask the businesses that we spend with, which of them are hiring any of our youth for any number of hours this summer. We are not talking about full time jobs with benefits, rather we want to see our kids have a chance at a work experience. We realize that many businesses might be too small to engage in this project, but we need to know which ones are willing to participate and govern our spending accordingly. We are simply helping those who help us. There should also be an effort underway to identify those youth who want to work and are unable to find employment. There should also be an effort to look at the whole issue of transportation. It does not look good for a company in Sorrento Valley to offer a job to a youth who can’t get to work by public transportation without a hardship in and of itself.
The Voice & Viewpoint believes that those who have jobs or programs should let us and the public know of their existence and that we should still try to make this summer a meaningful experience for as many youth as possible. Tell us if you have a job and need a young person to fill it.