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The Summer Job Lift

Posted by griffithd on April 30, 2018 at 9:50 AM

Across the region, a time-honored transition is occurring. The school year is ending, and summer vacation begins. For many young adults, this is also the time for early resume building to occur in the form of a summer job, summer internship, summer camps or travel that provides exposure and experience.

In large parts of our region, such a transition holds no such sets of experiences. For many, the summer is a time when the experience gap widens, and the associated access such opportunities provide only grow more distant.

In the cycle of intergenerational poverty, one of the distinguishing attributes is the lack of experiences and exposure to the opportunity that many of us take for granted. A summer job teaches both the hard and soft skills necessary to perform in the workplace as well as a modest income. A summer internship allows an individual to learn about a career field and learn what it takes to chart a career in a given industry. Understanding the skills required for a given vocation often drives a focus in school and the importance of a degree and/or professional skill. The networking that occurs often set the stage for a later interview and perhaps employment.

The good news is that across the city there exist many programs that serve to close this experience gap. At Episcopal Community Services we are members of PYN, the Philadelphia Youth Network, and together we provide paid internships four days a week and the one day of professional development for eight weeks over the summer months. Working with a network of for-profit businesses and nonprofit agencies we are able to place 130 young people in summer employment. Also, we extend our Out of School time program to summer camps where some 700 youth participate and gain both STEM experiences and other activities.

The data shows that individuals who have such experience are more likely to graduate high school, go on to additional education or professional training, and land employment that gives them the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that grips our region.

We know that the way out of Poverty is a job. One with a living wage, benefits, and a career path based on performance. Income provides the opportunity for stable housing, wellness, ongoing education, and the chance to participate as a full member of society.

The challenges are quite simply the numbers. Philadelphia’s poverty rate is 28 percent, and the number of youth needing employment and professional development and mentoring is significant and not just in the summer.

If you are an employer, consider participating in summer hiring. Better yet allocate some of your hirings to the population that is experiencing poverty. Invest in mentoring and professional development for individuals experiencing poverty. If you can coach or mentor a youth reach out to one of the many agencies that run such programs, get trained and volunteer. Provide financial support so such programs can scale to meet the demand.

Poverty will consume us as a society if we do not challenge its grip on our brothers and sisters. The long and short-term costs are staggering. We ignore the issue at our peril, and the solutions lie in our collective action, not in our collective avoidance of the issues.

Together the cycle of poverty can be broken and if you are in a position to hire, mentor, coach, or contribute you are part of the solution. Help provide the opportunity to a young adult, and in doing so challenge poverty.

Categories: ECS Outreach, Muddy Boots, Leadership

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