County Supervisors create Youth Corps program to energize careers amid recession
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In the current desert of economic opportunity for young people, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to stimulate career opportunities for youth amid the pandemic-induced recession by creating the Youth Environmental/Recreational Corp.
The program idea was proposed by County Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas.
Supervisor Lawson-Remer emphasized the need for the program with, “We’ve supported renters and small businesses, and now we are adding San Diego County’s youth to the list of people who we want to help during this pandemic. Mentors helped me flourish as a young person, but if I were growing up in isolation during a global pandemic I don’t know if I would be so lucky. At a time when opportunity and social interaction has disappeared for many students and entry level workers, this youth corps will help young people jump start their careers with paid positions to help them get a foothold in the green economy.”
The Board voted to spend $500,000 on the program.
Program leaders are planning to supply paid employment opportunities for low-income youth throughout County departments, with an emphasis on green economy careers.
Additionally, the program will support career readiness, workforce development, mentorship, help them gain experience and open between the ages of 16 and 24.
Next, staff will report within 90 days with a full proposal that pinpoints green job opportunities for their target audience and avenues to fund and help boost community organizations that aid youth career readiness.
Approximately 417,000 San Diego County residents are between the ages of 16-24, with 43,000 of them are categorized as “opportunity youth,” or young people who are neither in school nor working, according to a report published by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
“Young people were the first to be let go when the layoffs started happening, and I’ve heard so many stories of young people not having enough money to pay for rent or food, or not knowing where to turn,” noted Safia Haidari, one of Youth Will’s leaders, a nonprofit that aims to improve the youth development ecosystem in San Diego by collaborating with important decision makers. “In order for our region to fully recover, we must ensure that there are career opportunities and pathways to success for our youth. I want to thank Supervisor Lawson-Remer and Vargas for championing youth needs during this difficult time.”
The onset of the pandemic caused the most acute drop-off in employment levels in the country’s history. Young people are more likely to hold temporary and part-time positions, which are often seen as expendable when cutting costs. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a single month of unemployment can set 18 to 20-year-olds back 2% in lifetime income.
“Now more than ever, our economic recovery efforts must address the unique challenges that lie ahead for our county’s youth and young adults,” Vice Chair Nora Vargas began, “It is imperative that we provide accessible opportunities to get young people back on their feet, acquire skills and credentials, and create pathways into stable, sustainable careers. We need to invest in partnerships and systems that will help our young people stay connected to education, training, and job opportunities so they do not continue to bear the brunt of COVID-19’s economic consequences.”
Supervisor Lawson-Remer, who represents District 3, joined KUSI to discuss the creation of the Youth Environmental/Recreational Corp.