White House initiative aims to help youth find jobs

By Danielle Kaye

The Obama administration announced the launch of its “We Can’t Wait Initiative” in November, an effort to create jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds.

The program combines businesses, nonprofits and government help for “low-income and disconnected youth” to find jobs next summer, according to a White House press release.

Lenroy Jones, associate director for Employer/Corporate Relations at the Career Center, called the plan a “win for community, win for employer and win for the student.”

The plan would enable students to develop skills critical to success in the job market and community, said Katie Silver, an arts administration sophomore.

On Jan. 5, the Obama administration announced that the effort would be a partnership between the government and private sector, according to a USA Today article.

The partnership is set to create 180,000 jobs by the start of the summer with a possible expansion of the program to 250,000 jobs.

Corporations such as CenturyLink, CVS Caremark, Gap Inc., Starbucks and others have joined the government in this effort. AT&T committed to providing approximately 350 summer jobs, according to a USA Today article, and “Bank of America pledged investment in 1,500 paid internship placements.”

The initiative would offer the opportunity for students to apply what they learned in the classroom, while getting hands-on experience, Jones said.

“We have employers regularly share during their campus recruitment visit that they are looking to hire a skilled workforce,” Jones said. “So, they will have a chance to train students and benefit from the University of Kentucky talented students with this program in place.”

The plan allocates approximately $1.5 billion toward the partnership for the creation of jobs, according to the USA Today article.

Currently the 16- to 24-year-old spectrum is seen by the Obama administration as “Opportunity Youth,” due to the “untapped potential they bring to the Nation,” said Patty Stonesifer, chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions, in a news release.

The administration will launch the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a “one-stop search tool for youth to access postings for any participating employers seeking to reach them where they are online,” according to a White House press release. It intends to do so in the next 60 days.

“Creating jobs for people in our generation is important because it keeps kids out of trouble, builds character and teaches responsibility at a young age,” Silver said. “I can see this benefiting much of America’s youth, even my younger brother.

“It would provide an excellent opportunity for personal growth, while instilling a sense of independence.”