Hoping to reverse what has been called a lost decade of employment for
young people, officials in western Massachusetts have launched a youth
summer jobs campaign. WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill
Saying that government funded youth summer jobs programs will
not come close to meeting the demand, workforce development specialists,
and the mayors of the region's two largest cities appealed to the
private sector to offer work to teenagers this summer.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
kicked off the campaign before a room full of dozens of young people
hopeful of landing a summer and a handful of employers who have pledged
support for the effort.
The two municipal chief executives recounted personal
experiences with summer jobs, which in the case of Morse, who is just
23, it was not that long ago that he was working as a councilor at a
career center between semesters at Brown University.
Mayor Sarno counseled the young job seekers not to give up
Cassandra Lopez, who will start community college next fall,
said she's been looking hard for a summer job, with no luck yet.
Bill Ward, the president of the Regional Employment Board of
Hampden County said the board will have $700 thousand from a state
program to support about 400 summer jobs in Springfield, Holyoke,
Chicopee and Westfield. Federal funding, which has been cut for several
years running, will create about 200 jobs. Ward says the goal is to put
13 hundred young people into jobs this summer.
Western Massachusetts Electric Company, which hosted the youth
summer jobs campaign kickoff at its Springfield headquarters, is putting
$5,000 into the program, according to company president Peter Clarke.
Tom Crochiere, the vice president of a construction services
company in Chicopee, acknowledges it can be difficult to find work for a
first time job seeker with few skills.
A recent report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at
Northeastern University described a continuing crisis in teen employment
in the U.S. and Massachusetts. It found no teen job growth in the
recovery from the great recession. Ten years ago, teenage employment
was 45. Today it is 25%, and hiring for minority youth.