Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis Joins Pittsburgh Region Leaders To Back New Summer Jobs Effort
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and others seek to employ 2,000 youth through "Summer of Learn and Earn"
PITTSBURGH - Top government, community, business and faith-based leaders joined Steelers legend Jerome Bettis Thursday to launch a groundbreaking effort to provide life-changing jobs for youths around the Pittsburgh region.
The "Summer of Learn and Earn" seeks to raise enough funds to match 1,300 youths ages 14 to 21 from the city and 700 more from Allegheny County with summer jobs that position them for later careers, assisting both their personal development and the long-term growth of Pittsburgh-area employers.
The city, county, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and the Jerome Bettis "Bus Stops Here" Foundation are joining together to push for an estimated $4.5 million public and private investment in the region's young people through the program. Bettis joined the Summer of Learn and Earn effort through the White House's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, which seeks to provide opportunities to young people nationwide.
"Summer Youth Employment meant alot of to me as a teenager and I want to help other youth have that same opportunity. It provides them with confidence and truly connects them to opportunities."
More than 1,300 young people applied for jobs in Pittsburgh's Summer Youth Employment program in 2014, though there were only 500 positions available. Mayor Peduto named a task force last year to study ways to provide jobs to all eligible applicants.
"There are thousands upon thousands of economically disadvantaged youths in Pittsburgh who want jobs but don't have the connections or resources to get them. We can provide that opportunity to them and their families, while building a job-training pipeline to the city's growing network of 21st Century employers," Mayor Peduto said.
"Summer jobs are not only an important way to provide spending money to youth, but can also provide money-management skills, work skills, problem-solving skills, develop their critical thinking and offer life-skills training," said County Executive Fitzgerald. "With the help and commitment of our many partners in this region, we'll be able to offer our youth jobs as well as networking opportunities that can provide them with positive relationships with a mentor that can serve them for years to come. We are proud to help play a part in this investment in our young people."
"We know that in our region, one in five young people won't finish high school; one in eight are neither working nor in school," said Stefani Pashman, 3RWIB CEO. "The Learn and Earn Summer Employment Initiative is a major step forward in addressing this disconnect. By connecting young people to the job opportunities available in this region, we are showing the relationship between education and economic success and setting them on the path to a bright future."
Workforce trends show the Pittsburgh region needs to prepare more youth to enter the local workforce and replace the region's aging talent. Over the last decade the share of workers over age 55 grew by more than 80,000 in the region while the share of younger workers ages 25 to 44 fell by more than 100,000 workers. During the same period, the number of jobs for youth declined by 50 percent.
Focusing on training youth now will create a pipeline to fill jobs left by this aging workforce. Once established, an annual Summer of Learn and Earn for area youth will create a regular flow of trained workers, and benefit both young people and employers for years to come. Employers will be attracted to the region because they know it has a well prepared, diverse, growing and fully mobilized workforce.
For youth who go on to postsecondary education, summer jobs provide the experience they need to decide on their majors and careers faster, helping them to more quickly contribute to the workforce.
Pittsburgh Public Schools report 30 percent of youth do not graduate. Often this is because they have little opportunity to envision their place in the workforce once school is over. With the experience of summer jobs, students can see outside of their current circumstances and strive to complete their educations.
Furthermore, crime rates for youth are four times higher in summer months. The Summer of Learn and Earn will help youth be productive during their summer months and keep them off of the streets. The program will also seek to provide youth with mentors to support them in their career goals and match employers with like-minded students.
To establish the Summer of Learn and Earn organizers are seeking corporations to sponsor and hire a youth at $2,000 dollars for 25 hours a week for six weeks. A three-tiered program design will help match experience levels with the appropriate caliber of work, ensuring that the students at each corporation are matched with jobs that will enable them to complete their work effectively.
This three-tiered system, geared to different ages and experience-levels, will train the students to grow into the work over their high school careers. This is beneficial to employers because following graduation and postsecondary education or job training, the students will be qualified to immediately join the workforce.
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