On Wednesday, the Highlandtown-Canton exchange club held their weekly meeting with a focus on job creation for the area’s youth.
The conversation centered about Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s YouthWorks initiative where people between ages 14 and 21 are interviewed and given jobs with organizations as part of the program. YouthWorks is partnered with the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Hire One Youth Leadership Team, and has a particular focus on creating work experiences with private sector, nonprofit, and city and state government employers.
In Southeast, the non-profit Banner Neighborhoods will help monitor and train those in the program within the district. Banner Neighborhoods is expected to find jobs for 160 children. Those in Banner’s program will also participate in “beautification” projects, such as mulching and planting community gardens and go on field trips and receive SAT and vocabulary lessons.
With the program, employers pay a flat rate of $1500 and they get an employee for 25 hours a week for five weeks. This is a perk for businesses because they don’t have to pay and payroll taxes once they pay the initial fee.
The exchange’s president Mark Parker wrote, “As you all know, jobs for young people help them to save for school and support their families while learning valuable life skills and working towards a career.” This coincides with the YouthWorks slogan “Summer Jobs Launch Careers”, something Parker stressed as reasoning for the Highlandtown-Canton area to embrace the search for jobs.
The meeting was attended by over a dozen local business owners and non-profit workers that offered their input into the best ways to promote the hiring of young people to organizations. One of the most common suggestions was that the children in the program should create a list of their particular skills and work background so they could be aligned with a job position that fits that criteria, since the Mayor’s program doesn’t offer particular training. Also, the idea of more comprehensive background checks was suggested, so that the employers get a hand-working employee that would be worth their investment.
Another issue that was discussed was that the YouthWorks program only has three people on their staff. Out of the 12,000 kids that apply, only 6,000 get chosen to be a part, allowing for half of them to slip through the cracks.
In creating work opportunities, the aim is to expand the available businesses to include more local businesses rather than international chains like Target and Wal-Mart. Those in the meeting supported this notion enthusiastically.
A mission called “235 Lives”, where the idea is to create 235 jobs for youths, one for every person who was killed in 2013, by the local non-profit The Intersection was discussed. The goal of “235 Lives” was to connect youth to opportunities that in exchange, connect them with their community and get them out of dangerous environments that leads to these homicides.
The Exchange Club of Highlandtown-Canton meet on Wednesday at 12:30 September through June at Claddagh’s Pub at 2918 O’Donnell Street.
by GIANNA DECARLO EDITOR@BALTIMOREGUIDE.COM