The Bay Area has long been a hub of innovation and technology, so it is critical that local employers are actively engaged in developing a skilled workforce for the 21st century. Ensuring that young people learn the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math while in school is crucial to maintaining our culture of innovation, but so is exposing youth to the types of career opportunities available in these and other high-growth fields.
That’s why I was so pleased that the Mayor of San Francisco and many local employers signed on to President Obama’s Summer Jobs+ Initiative. Together, we’re working hard to provide our young people with the skills, experience, and opportunities they need to succeed.
Earlier this week I had a chance to sit down with the Mayor and employers like BRE Properties, Starbucks, and Jawbone who understand that summer jobs offer young people a chance they desperately need, while at the same time helping businesses develop a stronger pipeline to the local workforce.
There, employers partnered with Mayor Lee to open up more than 5,000 opportunities for area youth as a Summer Jobs+ city. That in itself is an accomplishment worth celebrating, but the innovative spirit of San Francisco and Silicon Valley had an impact that extended far beyond northern California.
Area employers AfterCollege.com, Internships.com, and LinkedIn helped organizations across the nation add their job listings to the Summer Jobs+ Bank. Monica Wilkinson and David Gobaud – two local software developers – put their talents on display building online applications through local and national code sprints that took the Summer Jobs+ Bank to the next level.
Together businesses, nonprofits like the United Way of the Bay Area and local leaders like Mayor Lee have all committed to provide more than 300,000 summer job opportunities for youth, including over 100,000 paid positions. Their contributions helped not only to meet the goal the President set when he launched Summer Jobs+ in January, but exceed it.
At our meeting in San Francisco it was so powerful to hear the stories of LaRon Ryan and Elexus Hunter, two amazing young people who are working hard to advance their careers this summer thanks to Mayor Lee and Summer Jobs+. Their stories weren’t much different than mine. Growing up outside of Los Angeles, my first summer jobs introduced me to role models that helped me become the first member of my family to go to college, and put me on a lifelong career path. So I know the feeling you get when someone takes a chance on you and the sense of dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck.
Thanks to our committed Summer Jobs+ partners, LaRon, Elexus, and young people across the country are getting an opportunity, and I know they’ll make it count.
Hilda L. Solis is the United States Secretary of Labor