By guest columnist ANDRE DICKENS61st Mayor of Atlanta
It’s no secret that the mantra that guides my decisions in public service is that I draw circles rather than lines delineating boundaries between neighborhoods, people, departments and places. My circles are diverse and inclusive and overlap to reflect all who live in our great city of Atlanta, the capital of the South.
Children and young people are at the heart of each circle. The way we care for them and the hope and promise we instill in them help define who we are. From education to health care, to our ability to support businesses and attract Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, to provide family jobs, affordable housing, public safety and other quality of life indicators that determine our ability to continually rise like a phoenix is reflected in the upward mobility of our youth.
If their future is bright, they will be able to not only carry on after us, but to do better, soar, and accomplish more than the generations before them. For this to happen, we as a city must invest in them through knowledge, access and opportunity.
That’s why my administration is investing heavily in the city’s youth by launching the 2022 Summer Jobs for Youth Program, which will provide young people aged 14 to 24 with job opportunities in our community that will allow them to earn money, develop essential skills, and participate in meaningful work experiences that they can build on to set the stage for future success.
Immediately after taking office, I assembled a diverse group of 40 Atlanta residents representing all levels of the city to study and provide recommendations in four key areas, including education and youth. Their thoughtful suggestions identified strategies to strengthen our investment in young people to build a skilled and talented workforce. My Summer Jobs for Youth Program reflects these ideals. As someone who has personally benefited from the experiences I gained in my youth by first attending and later working at Camp Best Friends, I know firsthand how valuable early job opportunities can be. .
Although no one can do everything, we can all do something. There are more than 3,000 young people in Atlanta between the target ages who would like and should have gainful employment this summer. That’s why I’m asking Atlanta businesses, corporations, nonprofits, philanthropists, tech start-ups, media, entertainment organizations, and the academic community to look in their respective circles to identify positions that can be filled.
My office is in the process of creating a Youth Summer Jobs Program portal where employers can post opportunities and vacancies for our youth this summer, and we have already begun that process. This centralized system will facilitate the process of finding jobs and hiring summer employees. The portal will be available in the coming weeks; however, I encourage all employers to visit our current site, www.ATLYouthEngage.com, to see the criteria and information that will be needed to start integrating young people.
The City of Atlanta has already identified more than 300 government-jurisdiction positions with a starting wage of $15 per hour that run the gamut from full-time and part-time positions for eight weeks to effective June 1, 2022. These positions are embedded in nearly every branch of municipal government, including the mayor’s office, public works, parks and recreation, planning, police and fire departments, management watershed, information management and aviation to name a few. These positions will be among the first to populate the new one-stop portal.
Our efforts to employ these 3,000 young people this summer are a collective effort. That’s why I’m asking the business, public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit community of Atlanta to help me help our youth. By hiring them for summer jobs, internships, and apprenticeships, we can empower them to learn, grow, be exposed to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, and earn money by same time. The first step towards hiring our young people is to visit our site to see what is required to participate in this business.
As we debate the potential paths our young people can take to achieve their individual goals, we must keep in mind that the end goal is to have a skilled workforce that will make Atlanta a desirable place to live and do business.
We need it, the city of Atlanta needs it, and our young people need it. If not now when? If not us, who? Please come help me support one of my Moving Atlanta Forward initiatives by supporting our youth.
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