Summer Jobs and Beyond

Filed under: Opinions/Blogs |
Tom Perez

Tom Perez

By U.S. Secretary of Labor  – As a teenager, I had three paper routes and I worked at a driving range. Being the secretary of labor doesn’t often involve delivering newspapers or picking up golf balls, but the skills I picked up in those early jobs – like responsibility, teamwork and problem solving – are skills I use every day.

SummerJob-06-twtFor a lot of teenagers, a summer job offers a pathway into the workforce, and we know that having a summer job can make all the difference to someone who didn’t get the easiest start in life. There’s plenty of research showing that meaningful employment opportunities can improve job prospects and help keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

Summer jobs can have huge benefits for both at-risk youths and communities across the country: stronger job prospects; less violent, risky behavior; reduced alcohol/drug use; crime reduction

Summer and after-school jobs help young people develop what some people call “soft skills,” though I think that term is misleading. SummerJob-10-twtThere’s nothing “soft” about leadership, teamwork, punctuality or problem-solving. Those skills are essential, and learning them early can help put young people on a path to their next move, whether it’s a job or more education.

Unfortunately, summer jobs aren’t always easy to come by for young people – especially for those who live in urban areas.

That’s why I am excited about the $20 million we announced today for the Summer Jobs and Beyond: Career Pathways for Youth competition. The Labor Department will award up to $2 million each to 10 local workforce development boards to expand existing summer jobs programs into year-round employment, career pathway and work experience programs for eligible youth. We’re focusing on young people, both in-school and out-of-school, ages 16 to 24, who have limited or no work experience.

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