What will demand be like for Minneapolis youth jobs program?

Minneapolis Tuesday opened the application process for its popular STEP-UP summer jobs program. Demand for the program is a barometer of sorts on how young people are faring in this recession and it’s worth watching how many apply for summer 2010 and how many are hired.

These are paid summer internships. Young people ages 14 to 21 are matched with jobs in private businesses, government, non-profits and education

The jobs pay at least $7.25 an hour and those who make it in must attend a work readiness training session. Click here for an application.

Last summer, STEP-UP received 3,200 applications for 1,300 jobs.

“As for the almost 1,900 youth that we were not able to serve, that unmet need was higher than normal (about 400 applicants higher than ’08),” said director Tammy Dickinson. “I attribute that to both the tough economy and better marketing and awareness of the program.”

The goal for 2010 is 1,300 to 1,350 jobs “but that will depend on being able to recruit enough employers and work sites, as well as some state funding amounts,” she added.

You can find more information on the program here.

There’s no doubt the youngest workers in this economy have had it particularly rough. In its May teen summer jobs outlook report, the state employment and economic development office wrote:

The entry level labor market is getting more crowded as experienced workers are hit by layoffs, older workers delay retirement and brand-new college graduates seek employment outside their fields of study.

Recent research by the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis found the recession accelerating the trend of teens simply leaving the labor force.

The Minneapolis Fed noted, “a tightening labor market hurts teen workers first and worst, because they tend to be on the bottom of the labor totem pole due to their lack of experience.”

The dearth of opportunities for teens can also be seen in the rising interest in public jobs programs. An informal survey of Step-Up applicants (both accepted and rejected, conducted by program officials at the request of the fedgazette) found that many were having a difficult time getting a job. Said one 18-year-old applicant, “I never got so much as an interview before I did Step-Up.”

Students are expected to be told in early March if they’re in. Jan. 29 is the deadline to apply.

If you have any experience with STEP-UP or you’re a teenager or young adult looking for work, please post below or contact me directly and share your story.

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