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Mayor Bob Filner and city council president pro tem Sherri Lightner appeared yesterday afternoon (May 30) at a roundtable to drum up support for Connect2Careers, the city’s teen summer jobs program formerly known as Hire-A-Youth.

“We need you to help our young people,” Filner told a crowd of prospective employers gathered at the San Diego Concourse downtown. “It makes exceeding sense to have them placed in real learning opportunities.”

In November the city, under the direction of then-mayor Jerry Sanders, allocated $200,000 to save the program from closing. This year, 377 applicants aged 16-21 had signed up to be vetted by specialists hired by the city before being sent out to interview for placement in paid internship programs by the time the presentation began. Only 53 employers, though, out of over 1,000 contacted, had agreed to participate, identifying 178 job openings among them.

Just 49 students have actually been placed through the program, which mostly runs from the last week of June through the second week of August. Students work a minimum of 120 hours during that time, and are generally paid between $8-12 per hour.

“We’re just two weeks away from beginning Connect2Careers,” Lightner said, repeating Filner’s call for more business community involvement, and noting that other cities have much higher investments in student jobs programs, such as New York, which she said spends $40 million annually on a similar program. “We need to do more – much more.”

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