Mayor Gloria launches city’s new ‘Employ + Empower’ youth workforce

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria |File Photo

New program will provide 1,000 local youth with paid internships, workforce training opportunities

SAN DIEGO – Continuing his commitment to supporting and investing in San Diego’s youth, Mayor Todd Gloria on Friday, June 10 launched a new youth workforce training program called “Employ + Empower“ that is specifically aimed at providing paid internships and job training opportunities with the City of San Diego to local youth.

“As Mayor, I have made investing in our youth a priority for the City of San Diego. Thanks to the State of California’s investment in this important program, we will be able to employ and empower young people through public service jobs,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “Employ + Empower provides our youth with a career pathway while compensating them for their work. Our goal is to show young San Diegans the opportuniti17es open to them while they earn a paycheck and gain skills they can ultimately use in their careers.”

The Employ + Empower youth workforce program is made possible by $18.5 million in state funding for #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs Corps. The program will help approximately 1,000 opportunity youth from 16 to 30 years of age gain real-world work experience while serving their community and earning money.

“The new #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs Corps is a transformative program that invests in underserved youth by creating meaningful pathways for public service careers while providing participants with significant financial support,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins. “This program enriches our communities through impactful community service, tackling issues such as climate action, food insecurity, educational disparities and COVID-19 recovery. California is pleased to partner with the City of San Diego to launch this visionary program.”

The goal of Employ + Empower is to increase youth employment and attract, employ and empower the next generation of public servants through a robust paid youth internship and jobs program. It also strives to enhance recruitment, retention and diversity of the City’s more than 11,000 employees.

“California’s leadership in both innovation and talent are recognized across the globe,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward. “The #CaliforniansForAll Youth Job Corps, which is funding the City’s Employ + Empower paid internship program, encourages historically underserved students and youth to serve our communities while earning money. Investing in our youth, serving our communities…these are key to California’s continued and future success.”

Employ + Empower is intended to serve youth who meet one or more of the below criteria:

  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Low-income
  • Unemployed and/or out of school
  • Justice system-involved
  • Transitioning from foster care
  • Engaged with the mental health or substance abuse system.

The city will conduct targeted outreach and partner with historically underserved communities through events and career fairs to help get the word out to San Diego youth. The city also will lean on successful existing partnerships dedicated to creating opportunities for youth in the areas of workforce development, wrap-around services addressing housing and food insecurities, and other programs designed to eliminate barriers for youth to succeed.

“These kinds of investments are a game-changer for California youth. Earning money, while developing career-building skills AND helping their community – a win-win-win,” said Josh Fryday, Chief Service Officer at California Volunteers.

The Employ + Empower program aims to hire more than 1,000 young people and provide 581 student internship positions, 351 management internships, 68 management trainee positions and 75 junior lifeguard scholarships. Management trainee positions provide a bridge between internship and entry-level employment, which is lacking in many departments and divisions, such as Parks and Recreation Open Space Division, Human Resources, IT, Sustainability and Planning.

“Every young person should have an opportunity to fulfill their potential and find a quality career. Our Employ + Empower program will create that opportunity for young San Diegans from underserved communities, many of whom are disconnected from educational and career opportunities,” said City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, representative for District 9. “As an added benefit, Employ + Empower participants will be helping San Diego provide our residents with the improved, more responsive service they deserve. This is a win-win that every San Diegan should be excited about.”

Employ + Empower enhances the city’s existing successful internship, apprentice and volunteer programs. Under this program, current citywide unpaid internships will be converted to paid internship opportunities. Youth within the program will have the ability to work in many areas throughout various City departments and will be able to contribute to the city’s own work on climate change, food insecurity and COVID-19 recovery.

“When organizations don’t offer paid internships, they disqualify young people who come from underserved communities, as many of them are unable to work for free,” said Councilmember Raul Campillo, representative for District 7. “The Employ + Empower program is one of the many historic investments our city is making to support workforce development by ensuring the youth in San Diego who would otherwise not consider a career in public service gain experience AND receive compensation for their service.”

To learn more about Employ + Empower, visit Applications went live following City Council approval of the program on Monday, June 13.

“Access to paid job experiences instills our youth with leadership, communication and problem-solving skills, and the California For All funding is a vital step in creating a strong workforce for our future generations,” said Council President pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe, representative for District 4. “I’m proud that our city is invested in working collaboratively to help connect young people to opportunities for growth and development.”

“Employ + Empower is a much-needed program that will give hope to youth in marginalized communities, providing them with a pathway to chase their dreams and climb the social ladder,” said Anusha Kadiyala, Chair of the City’s Youth Commission. “These internships and on-the-job training in city departments will help prepare today’s youth to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.”

“These public service opportunities will provide equitable career development skills in public service, which will be a critical path for youth to gain experience, social capital and income,” said Andrea O’Hara, Executive Director of the City’s Office of Child and Youth Success. “The City of San Diego, through this grant, is committed to placing hundreds of San Diego Youth in high-quality, career-facing paid internships.”

“The City’s Human Resources Department is committed to developing a thriving, skilled and educated workforce capable of tackling the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow, by providing a clear, unified pathway for career growth, learning and development today,” said Julie Perez-Rasco, Director of the City’s Human Resources Department.

(City of San Diego Release)

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