LOS ANGELES, CA — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce today calling on local business leaders to step up and provide summer job opportunities for youth.
Hosted by the L.A. Area Chamber, the breakfast event kicked off the official HIRE LA’s Youth summer jobs campaign, which looks to boost employment opportunities for youth as summer approaches.
“We’ve seen that over the years there’s been a negative trend where young adults are seeing less and less job opportunities during the summer months when they should be taking advantage and getting work experience,” Solis said. “We’re looking to mobilize the business community not just here in Los Angeles, but all over the country to help reverse this trend.”
Last summer, America’s future workforce was shortchanged as youth employment numbers fell to record lows. Forty-eight percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.
In response, the White House announced Summer Jobs+ 2012, calling on businesses nationwide to help provide job opportunities for youth. In Los Angeles, the Chamber has been working with the City of Los Angeles, the Workforce Investment Board and other partners on HIRE LA’s Youth since 2006.
One of the campaigns biggest supporters has been Wells Fargo, which has not only provided sponsorship money for the campaign, but actively recruits HIRE LA candidates for internships.
“We believe this is an important initiative that all employers in the community should be involved in,” said John Sotoodeh, Wells Fargo L.A. Metro/Orange County Regional Bank president. “We’ve seen that early job opportunities can motivate our youth to do well in school. Businesses equally benefit because our youth is better prepared when they graduate from college and are more seasoned and ready for full-time employment.”
HIRE LA’s Youth past participant Derrian William agrees. He believes opportunities to work in a professional environment are especially motivating.
“If you can see the reward you can have the dream and work towards it," William said. “I feel as if my generation or anyone in my position is ignorant of a world they've never seen and I think they need to be exposed to it.”
HIRE LA’s Youth is sponsored by Bank of America, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citibank and Ralphs.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit www.lachamber.com.