SF teams up with programs to place teens in jobs


With summer almost here, concern about teenage unemployment is growing. The city of San Francisco is teaming up with the United Way, 40 non-profit agencies, and a number of private employers to combat this problem.

Amy Thole of MatchBridge is helping Prescott Carlson of San Francisco build up his resume and find a summer job. The 16-year-old says finding a paid position has been frustrating.

"It was really difficult. I applied to like more than 10 and all I got were like internships and something I didn't get paid in," said Carlson.

The Employment Policies Institute is a non-profit research organization focusing on entry level employment. It puts the state teenage unemployment rate at just over 36 percent; now compare that to a statewide unemployment rate of 10.9 percent.

"Some of the sectors that teens would traditionally find jobs in have been slow to recover. Teens in the state are also facing more competition from different groups of workers," said Michael Saltsman from the Employment Policies Institute.

Many college grads looking for full-time work are settling for jobs normally taken by teens and retired workers are also coming back into the workforce filling part time jobs. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but its $8 an hour in California and $10.24 in San Francisco. The Employment Policies Institute thinks higher labor costs here also contribute to the high teen unemployment rate.

"When you raise the cost to hire and train entry level employees like teens, fewer of them are going to be hired," said Saltsman.

"It's not discouraging employers from hiring young people in our program. There's a goal of 5,000 jobs for this summer and we had 3,300 plus pledged already," said Matt Poland from MatchBridge.

Matt Poland is director of MatchBridge, the year round component of Summer Jobs Plus and a joint program between the city of San Francisco and United Way.

Sunita Dhital is a graduate of MatchBridge. The program taught Dhital job interviewing skills, how to dress for success, and both time and money management.

"It was amazing. It's just like within eight weeks my whole career was changed," said Dhital.

MatchBridge's "Real Estate For Tomorrow's Adults" program placed Dhital in an internship at the real estate firm The Bohan Company and after two months, she was hired into a permanent position.

"I would definitely call it a win-win. Sunita has been helped in a sense that she's been exposed to professional property management and has worked closely with me for several years and has grown in terms of her abilities to provide services for clients," said Bart Howard from Bohan.

Carlson is confident when he completes the program, he'll do just as well as Dhital.

"I'm sure after MatchBridge, I'll definitely get into Starbucks or Jamba Juice or Old Navy," said Carlson.

MatchBridge is open to anyone in San Francisco between the ages of 16 and 24. To find out how your teenager -- or your business -- can participate, click on this link: www.HireSFYouth.org or to call 211.

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