D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is seeking to at improve a popular city program, the Summer Youth Employment Program, which is a nine-week gig where young adults work in both public and private institutions, including AU.
The Department of Employment Services slates the number of young people taking part in the program at 22,076 - the largest number registered since the 1980s, according to Erica Stanley, a spokesperson for Fenty.
There has been much public concern over whether or not there will be enough funding and organization for the program to be successful - two issues the program had last summer.
Last year, Fenty elongated the usually six-week program to nine weeks. He also asked his staff to ensure each young adult from the ages of 14 to 21, who wished to be part of the program, would receive employment. This program would seek to improve the high unemployment rate among young people. In May, the youth unemployment rate hovered at 22.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Summer Youth Employment Program is intended to introduce local young adults to the working world.
“Connecting our youth to work experiences that expose them to the various industries and elevate their levels of thinking about the career path best suited for them is at the core of this program,” said Joseph Walsh, director for the D.C. Department of Employment Services, in a press release. “We are very excited about this level of enthusiasm, not only by the youth, but also by the employers participating in this year’s program.”
D.C. Council member Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, said that last year’s program is evidence of why the program should not be continued, according to The Washington Post. While the cost of the program placed a hefty burden on taxpayers, a lack of preparedness led to what Barry called a “disaster” in the Post. As a result of scarce oversight, workers received wages without actually working and several others were ineligible for the program - a seemingly reckless mistake given today’s economy, he said. Fenty, however, feels that the poor economy is even more reason to keep the program at nine weeks this year, according to a statement from his office.
“Given the current economic conditions, we want to ensure that our youth are given optimal advantages to learn and earn this summer,” Fenty said in the release. “The businesses that are seeking to hire our youth are excited about this year’s summer program and anxious to be paired with youth workers who are early registrants.”
The budget for the 2008 program fell at $21 million, but final spending was $51 million, according to Stanley. The program has similar prospects this year - Fenty has proposed to replace the original budget of $23 million with $47 million budget, Stanley said.
“If the Council adopts the proposal, we anticipate that the program will have enough money to support all participants,” Stanley said.
Though Fenty has imposed new rules, such as requiring students fill out electronic timecards, concerns about the program’s implementation are still plenty. Youth in the program began working at AU and District-wide June 17 and will continue through August 21.