Summer youth jobs program includes new resource guide, college learning opportunities
Bolstered by increased funding support, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the Mayor's Summer Youth Jobs program will add two new features this year to support long-term workforce preparedness: a Learn & Earn Career Development Internship that pays participants for college-level coursework, and an online resource guide that includes a primer on workers' rights compiled by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office (AGO). Both projects are collaborations of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development and the Department of Youth Engagement & Employment.
"The disruptions of COVID-19 have made this summer a critical one for Boston's youth, who need our support now more than ever," said Mayor Walsh. "But the Summer Youth Jobs program is never just about one summer. We want young people to come away with a lasting impact - whether that's coursework that unlocks new career paths, or the ability to protect themselves long-term from potential abuses in the workplace."
"A young worker's first job is critical in teaching them about workplace rules, responsibility, and safety," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. "This online resource guide that we developed with Mayor Walsh's Office will help our young people understand their rights to earned wages and a safe, healthy workplace. We are pleased to provide these resources to support young workers in Massachusetts."
The online guide, Resources for youth employees, connects Summer Youth Jobs participants with valuable resources for young people who are new to the workforce. The guide covers immediate needs, such as technology access and COVID-19 safety protocols, as well as vital information for the years ahead, such as financial empowerment services and job training and education opportunities.
The guide also includes a Know your rights page devoted to familiarizing young people with their rights and responsibilities as workers. The Massachusetts AGO's office compiled the information for the City to ensure that Boston's young workers have easy access to these legal guidelines, which range from workplace safety to wage payment to anti-discrimination laws.
"During these unprecedented times no population is less important - especially our young people," said Rashad Cope, Director of the Department of Youth Engagement & Employment. "The City of Boston Department of Youth Engagement & Employment stands in the gap to ensure Boston remains a city who values and prioritizes opportunities for its youth. We are proud to be a partner among many strong youth serving organizations and institutions that cares about responding to the interest, equitable access and needs of Boston's youth and creating quality learning, employment and engagement experiences."
The Learn & Earn internship, which has enrolled over 500 participants, pays young people for their engagement in college-level courses that lay the foundation for a career pathway. The 26 available classes are offered by four local colleges: Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston. These classes span the following subjects: business, communications, early childhood education, human services, social sciences, and technology.
Most of the classes confer 3-6 college credits, which provide a head start to a college education for the program's high school juniors and seniors. For the program's older participants who are high school graduates or HiSET/GED completers up to age 24, the classes can serve as a gateway to college or a continuation of their classwork toward a degree.
Like other tracks of the Summer Youth Jobs Program, the Learn & Earn internship pays participants an hourly wage of $12.75 for 25 hours per week. This time is divided among class time and homework, group study sessions, and a job readiness and financial education curriculum led by a career coach, who also works with young people on their career plans. These components will be held virtually for participant safety. The internship runs from July 13 to August 21 for most participants.
The Mayor's Summer Jobs Program works to empower youth by connecting them to jobs that provide mentorship and guidance, and promote skill building and networking opportunities that create lasting professional pathways to success. In recognizing the importance of keeping Boston's youth active and engaged through meaningful opportunities, the City of Boston partners with a host of private and nonprofit partners, including Action for Boston Community Development, the Boston Private Industry Council, John Hancock's MLK Scholars, Youth Options Unlimited, and others to make these summer opportunities available to Boston's youth.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on many private businesses, which has impacted their ability to host a youth summer job program, Mayor Walsh has committed to bolstering investments in the program by investing an additional $4.1 million, making the total funding for Youth Engagement and Employment $11.9 million. This additional funding comes at a time when other large cities have scaled back their summer jobs program, and will allow the City of Boston to have a more robust jobs program within city departments, expanding to new opportunities that previously had not been part of the program. As part of hiring and onboarding 8,000 youth in summer jobs, the City of Boston will coordinate personal protective equipment for all youth workers.