Gray: Summer Youth Employment Program Has Improved Drastically

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — D.C.’s Summer Youth Employment Program used to be “notorious” for its mismanagement, according to Mayor Vincent Gray. But now, he says, the program is successfully connecting more young people with jobs.

About 14,000 people between the ages of 14 and 21 took part in the program this summer. Gray says he is especially pleased with the growing number of private companies and tech sector employers that are signing up. Private employers now account for 66 percent of participation.

But the program is changing from the inside, out, as well.

“By and large I think we’ve changed the culture of the program to help these young people realize that they need to do three things… they need to show up every day, they need to show up on time, and they need to come with a good attitude.”

Just a few years ago, Gray says, the program was “rife with dysfunction and abuse.” There was no application process, no mandatory orientation and some participants came from outside of D.C. There was a high frequency of youth not showing up for their work assignments, outbursts of crime on pay day and a “precipitous decline in participation by the District’s private sector employers.”

Since then, the Department of Employment Services has aggressively reformed the program, re-establishing “trust in the government’s ability to administer a high-quality summer youth employment program,” he says.

“The program now does extensive work to match youth with jobs in field that interest them as possible career choices.” And, “many employers are now using the program to interview participants for future jobs.”

The program participants “are not only taught proper workplace behavior, but also other life skills such as financial literacy and free training in the use of Microsoft Office software.”

Hear D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s full address below.

WNEW’s Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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