June 21, 1:31 PM click here to comment > 2
Helping local teens gain skills for a new economy
The days of walking into a business and hoping to get a job with a firm handshake or simple enthusiasm are long gone. Especially for young people.
Given the high rate of teen unemployment, the private sector and public sector alike need to step up to provide youth with real work experience so they can see the value of their education, apply their knowledge, and learn technical skills in high-demand occupations.
I was honored to stand with City of Seattle department leaders last Wednesday to celebrate the accomplishments of 18 Seattle teen-agers from the Human Services Department’s (HSD’s) Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) who had completed a four-month internship program that provided them with the skills and experience they need to better compete in the new economy.
In 2011, with financial assistance from the Workforce Development Council (WDC), the City developed a pilot internship project for implementation in 2012. The project improved on earlier internships by targeting skill development in growth occupations, like pre-engineering and business technology. And this is just the beginning. I look forward to presenting our work together with the WDC to the broader community to scale these efforts in both the public and private sectors.
Ranging in age from 16 to 19, the youth interns worked in 12 City departments in positions that provided them with skills in information and business technology, engineering, community outreach and more. Their success is all the more impressive because only students who faced barriers to completing their high school education were admitted into this program. These barriers include: low incomes, family credit problems, and failing core classes required for graduation.
One young man in the program, Mustafe Ali, a senior at Ingraham High School, interned this spring at the Seattle Department of Transportation in the Construction Engineering Division, working for 10 hours each week after school. In a short time, he learned real skills in the civil engineering field, like using AutoCAD software to plot construction drawings, and computer skills to create spreadsheets to track payments and materials. Mustafe spoke movingly at last week’s celebration that he will be the first one in his family to not only graduate from high school, but to attend college to become a civil engineer.
These are the kinds of opportunities that can change lives: of the individual students, their families and their communities.
Posted by: Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith