Today we launched our tenth year of SummerWorks, a program that places Portland-area young adults in summer jobs to gain valuable work experience critical to their long-term success. Officials from Portland, Multnomah and Washington counties helped us welcome this years youth participants at a dynamic kick off event.
Since 2009, our SummerWorks program has placed over 6,000 young people, ages 16 to 24, in summer jobs. The program provides a first job experience for young adults who are motivated to work but may lack the social networks or support to find jobs on their own. The program targets under-represented youth who face challenges such as growing up in poverty or at-risk of dropping out of high school.
“This program works because it connects young people with quality jobs at good pay and provides the skills they need to make their lives better now and in the future.” says Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who has been an advocate of the program since 2011. “The SummerWorks program is an indispensable tool in training the next generation of productive workers, in breaking the cycle of poverty, and in teaching young people the value of work and the self-esteem that comes with it.”
SummerWorks was formed in response to a persistent youth unemployment problem in the Portland metro region. There are nearly 30,000 young people who are both out of school and out of work in our area and unemployment rates for youth continue to lag and have not recovered to pre-Recession rates. Young adults ages 16 to 24 made up 12 percent of the labor force, but accounted for 27 percent of Oregon unemployment in 2015. Consequently, the share of unemployed young people with no previous work experience nearly doubled. The SummerWorks program is helping address this youth unemployment crisis.
“Despite our booming economy, many in the city continue to struggle to make ends meet. Assuring that all Portland youth have the opportunity to fully participate in our economy and be connected with employment opportunities is a key goal of my administration and essential for our continued economic success,” says Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.