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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Teens complete City internship program with skills for new economy

6/13/2012  4:00:00 PM
Rachel Schulkin  (206) 684-8020

Teens complete City internship program with skills for new economy
18 youth interns gain skills in engineering, information and business technology fields

SEATTLE – Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith joined City of Seattle department leaders today in honoring 18 Seattle teen-agers who completed a four-month internship program that provided them with the skills and experience they need to better compete in the new economy.

"The days of walking in to a business and hoping to get a job with a strong background or simple enthusiasm are long gone," said Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. "Given the unprecedented rates of teen unemployment, it is incumbent upon us, as a community, private sector and public sector alike, to get youth the experiences they need to be successful in today's economy. Youth need real work experience to see the value of their education, to apply their knowledge, and get some real technical skills in high-demand occupations."

It's harder than ever for young adults in Seattle-King County—and across the country— to get jobs. Unemployment for youth 16-24 has doubled with the recession. In Washington state, more than 75,000 young adults (18-24) are neither working nor in school. In 2010, when Washington's unemployment rate was 10 percent for adults 25 to 64 years of age, the rate for young adults was more than 22 percent. Almost a quarter of the state's young people are in Seattle-King County, translating into thousands of disconnected and unemployed youth.

The City of Seattle uses internships to provide many youth with their earliest exposures to the world of work. In 2011, the City worked under the sponsorship of the Workforce Development Council (WDC) and with the support of the Office of Economic Development, Human Services Department and the Personnel Department developed a pilot internship project for implementation in 2012. The project improves on earlier internships by targeting skill development in growth occupations, like pre-engineering and business technology.

Eighteen youth who are participants in the Human Services Department's Seattle Youth Employment Program, completed the four-month pilot starting on February 13, 2012 and ending on June 8, 2012. The youth ranged in age from 16 to 19.

Twelve city departments hosted interns in positions that provided youth with skills in information and business technology, engineering, community outreach and more. Information and business technology are two occupations in high demand in Seattle's economy. The city departments were: the Department of Information Technology, Seattle Department of Transportation, Legislative Department, Seattle City Light, Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Human Services Department, Personnel Department, Department of Planning and Development, Office of Economic Development and Finance and Administrative Services.

Only students (in Seattle Public Schools) who face barriers to completing their high school education were admitted into this program. These barriers include: low incomes, being behind in credit, and failing core classes needed to graduate.

The internship project came about through the City of Seattle's Workforce Equity and Planning Advisory Committee in 2010 and Mayor McGinn's Youth and Families Initiative, which explored strategies to develop high-quality internship experiences for youth to help the City better meets its labor needs and engage the communities and colleges in this effort.

Here is the experience of one of the youth interns, Mustafe Ali, a senior at Ingraham High School:

  • Mustafe heard from a friend about the Seattle Youth Employment Program and how it helps youth with education and employment. 
  • He was placed in an internship this spring with the Seattle Department of Transportation in the Construction Engineering Division, working for 10 hours each week after school.
  • In a short time, he learned real skills in the civil engineering field:
  • He can use AutoCAD software to plot construction drawings
  • He learned computer skills to create spreadsheets to track payments and materials.
  • Mustafe was selected to continue this internship during the summer.
  • He is now interested in pursuing a civil engineering degree.
  • Mustafe will be the first one in his family to not only graduate from high school, but to attend college.

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