Ending New York’s Summer Jobs Depression

Thursday, February 12, 2015
by Michael Haberman, Northeast Region Executive, JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy
Young people in New York City are suffering a summer jobs depression. In fact, only 25 percent of youth who applied to the city’s Summer Youth Employment program in 2014 received a job. And the situation is not expected to get much better this summer. 
While it will be no small feat to solve the problem of creating enough job opportunities to meet the demand, we also have to make improving the quality of these jobs a priority. If we really want summer jobs to help solve the youth employment crisis, we need to ensure that these opportunities are designed to help young people develop the skills they need for future economic success.
Fortunately, a number of New York City non-profits are already moving in this direction. In recent years we have supported PENCIL, Futures & Options and Virtual Enterprise because they partner with the private sector to ensure summer work and training aligns with real job skills that are needed in their communities. With their support, we’re seeing good progress:
  • Students are receiving significant training before, during and after their summer job that prepares them not only for a short-term summer job, but also for long-term careers.
  • Summer placement is becoming a year-round continuum. At Virtual Enterprise, for example, the students are working throughout the year to create a virtual business. The summer job in the “real” world is now just one component of the ongoing experience.
  • From the employer’s perspective, the jobs are not “charity.” The students provide real value during the summer and are also seen as potential future employees.

Momentum for programs like these should pick up as the de Blasio Administration is also focused on up-skilling the city’s summer jobs program.  Unfortunately, New York City doesn’t have the resources to recruit employers. There is little federal funding available for summer jobs programs, which rely largely on local public and private resources. This is where the private sector can help by structuring and expanding job programs for young people. JPMorgan Chase is committing $5 million over two years in summer youth employment initiatives across the country to enhance skill-based and career-specific job opportunities. Currently, our commitment, combined with other local support, created almost 50,000 summer jobs for young people and learning opportunities for more than 50,000 young people in the 14 cities we support.
Further investments by New York City officials, educators and the private sector in summer youth employment programs will expand the number of jobs and better align those jobs with the skills needed by local employers. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, view our Summer Youth Employment report. And join us on March 3rd when we’ll discuss the issue with some key leaders in the space.


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