Business leaders, elected officials urge businesses to hire youths this summer

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Business and community leaders along with government officials are urging Baltimore businesses to help close placement and funding gaps for a summer youth employment program.

The program has drawn high interest this year with 8,000 applicants seeking positions. But the program needs more businesses to step up with job opportunities and funding this summer.

“Of course (youths) get invaluable exposure to the work environment, but it’s also important for the business community,” Greater Baltimore Committee President and CEO Donald C. Fry said at a June 3 news conference at Wells Fargo Bank in Baltimore.

Fry is chairman of Hire One Youth.

“We get a first-hand look at talented yet developing young people,” he said. “We can identify skills of today’s young workers and help them target other skills that they need to acquire. And most importantly, we can identify talented young prospects to bring into those business’ work-force either right away or when they finish their education.”

Officials encourage Baltimore businesses to hire at least one job-ready youth, between ages 16 to 21, for a six-week summer job. The program was highlighted in a December 2014 Huffington Post article about the power of civic engagement.

Participating in the program has upsides for employers as well as youths.

This year an additional component of the program will be teaching youths about financial responsibility, which includes the importance of saving money and having good credit, Fry said. Details of this component are being finalized.

Employers that previously participated in the summer program are encouraged to hire at least one job-ready youth in 2015, the program’s fourth year, and to recruit additional employers to participate.

More than 100 private-sector businesses in Baltimore hired 500 youths for the 2014 Hire One Youth initiative. Of those youths, 44 were ultimately hired for full-time positions by their summer employers, Fry said.

“Today I’m calling on businesses across the city to lend a hand,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake said at the press conference. “If you participated in the past, I hope you return again this year. If you’ve never participated before, now is the perfect time to start.

“We can put more young people to work, we can put more money into the local economy,” the mayor said. “You know when young people get it they spend it.”

The mayor and Fry were joined at the press conference by: U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez; U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski; Kelly Schulz, secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; Andy Bertamini, Maryland Regional President of Wells Fargo Bank; Ronald Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System; and Michael E. Cryor, chairman of One Baltimore.

Hire One Youth by the numbers:

  • In 2014, there were more than 5,000 job placements
  • Funds for 7,000 jobs have been raised
  • 8,000 youths have registered for the 2015 program
  • 6,000 youths have already received job placements
  • A minimum of 1,000 job slots need to be filled

For additional information about the program and to sign up, click here.

Read what The Baltimore Sun wrote about the news conference.

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