hiring.jpgThe specter of unemployment may be lifting for Californians in general, but for young adults, the prospect of finding work remains dismal.

To help young people have a chance at employment, the city of San Francisco is launching an initiative to create 5,000 summer jobs for city youth through its San Francisco Summer Jobs+ program.

A recent study released by the Pew Research Center found that 46 percent–or nearly one in two–of Americans ages 18 to 24 are unemployed. Last year in California, one in five young adults ages 16 to 24 were unemployed but were actively seeking employment, according to United Way of the Bay Area.

“A quality work experience for a young person can be a bridge to a lifeline,” Mayor Ed Lee said at Thursday morning’s announcement of the program, which will focus on low-income and disconnected youth.

The program was created in response to the White House’s federal and private sector initiative of the same name calling for providing youth with employment opportunities.

“Creating meaningful employment opportunities for our young people today will set them up for success now and in the future,” Lee said. “It’s worth it to give hope to our youth.”

The program urges businesses to create jobs or sponsor summer internships for youth, as the city has committed to creating at least 2,500 jobs and internships.

United Way had led the efforts in the Bay Area to support President Obama’s call to action, and local companies such as Jamba Juice, UPS and Twitter have already committed to hiring youth this summer.

Jose Luis Mejia spoke at City Hall this morning about how his paid internship opportunity was a transformative experience.

Mejia said that before he received the video production training he was doing the best that he could to support his single mother, even if that meant stealing and hustling.

Mejia now works as the lead program facilitator and producer with the Conscious Youth Media Crew and said the internship “is really what changed the trajectory of my life.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu both emphasized the transformative ability of an internship experience.

Chiu said that he has watched his interns go onto bigger and better positions.

“I have had interns who are now civil rights attorneys, who are now entrepreneurs, who are now helping to run government,” he said. “I know that with the help of this program, they are not only going to take over my job–they are going to take over Mayor Lee’s job.”

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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