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July 15, 2016

Brookings Institution conference on youth employment summer programsThe Brookings Institution recently released a report on youth summer job programs that talks about innovative approaches, praising CONNECT2Careers (C2C) for its year-round approach, partnerships with regional entities and its database.

Former mayor of Philadelphia The Honorable Michael Nutter, and Taryell SimmonsThe report, entitled “Youth summer jobs programs: Aligning ends and means,” was written to “help clarify what is known about summer jobs programs and to provide information and guidance to city leaders, policymakers, and funders as they consider supporting larger and better summer efforts. Many jurisdictions are rebuilding their summer programs after a long hiatus that followed the end of dedicated federal funding in the late 1990s.”

The report was released at an event in July in Washington, D.C. C2C Training Specialist Taryell Simmons attended the event and pointed to a message shared by panelist — and former mayor of Philadelphia — Michael Nutter, as a key to growing youth summer job programs: These programs must operate in year-round mode to be most effective; it takes constant relationship-building and reminders with employers of the need to hire young people.

According to the report, “Most summer jobs officials understand that a six-week dip into paid employment in the summer, while a huge opportunity, still needs to align with year-round programming if it is to have significant and lasting impacts on learning, skills, and employability.”

To this end, SDWP has been collaborating with San Diego County’s Community Action Partnership to build on its summer jobs program by offering subsidized externships to high school students living in high-poverty ZIP codes. The goal is to use the winter and spring break externships to recruit and prepare youth — recruited from schools and youth-serving agencies — for employment the following summer.

In addition, the report points out that C2C and programs in other cities, such as Louisville and Detroit, have recently aimed to dramatically increase their private-sector and unsubsidized job openings for youth. Often, programs provide various levels of support to employers to encourage hiring. For instance, C2C offers payroll solutions for employers that hire youth through its portal, which the report has called “perhaps the most impressive summer jobs management information system” nationwide.

The system for which C2C was praised in the report is a customized web-based portal on a FileMaker Pro foundation, which young job seekers access by computer or smartphone, with phone support for those without digital access. As stated in the report, with the year-round database, employers can post youth jobs, scanned and pursued by young people throughout the year. Thanks to support from the City of San Diego, C2C keeps the portal running year-round rather than just during the summer months, helping more young job seekers find the right job.

The revamped C2C portal makes it possible to track young people and their participation in real time, and a job search function enables job seekers to identify jobs that appeal to their interests, and sorts openings by distance to the work site, since transportation can be a significant barrier for working young people.

C2C continues to garner support from partners in addition to the City and County of San Diego to offer young people job opportunities.

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