An exciting crop of young people recently started their first day of work as interns enrolled in Mayor Sylvester Turner’s signature Hire Houston Youth employment program. Thousands of young people reported for duty in various jobs throughout the public, private, and philanthropic sectors where they will spend the summer “earning and learning.”
In April 2016, Mayor Turner launched the program through the Mayor’s Office of Education. Hire Houston Youth is designed to serve as a facilitator to connect young people ages 16 – 24 to eight-week paid local jobs and internships where they will gain valuable work experience, develop leadership skills, and build social capital to prepare them for a future filled with opportunity and success in Houston’s dynamic economy.
“This year, Hire Houston Youth kicked-off with the hope that it would play a major part in the City’s resiliency and recovery and help Houston’s youth get back to work,” said Mayor Turner. “Hire Houston Youth works to maximize the economic potential of youth and young adults by connecting them to opportunities and resources that are necessary to thrive in today’s globalized economy.”
According to a recent analysis of unemployment insurance claims data by the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, throughout the pandemic, more than 325,000 16 – 29-year-olds filed jobless claims, predominately those ages 16 – 24, who are neither working, looking for work, nor in school. Before the pandemic, this subset, referred to as Opportunity Youth and Young adults, were already disconnected from the workforce, creating cause for concern that this population would become further disengaged from employment.
Mayor Turner included Hire Houston Youth in the One Safe Houston crime reduction initiative to effectively reduce crime among young participants. According to the Brookings Institute, summer youth employment programs are a proven tool in preventing crime and improving school outcomes. Hire Houston Youth ensures that Houston’s youth and young adults have options, are given the opportunity for career exploration, and experience and acquire the training needed to be successful in the workforce.
“ConocoPhillips is pleased to partner with Mayor Turner’s Hire Houston Youth. Programs like this strengthen our community and equip our youth for future career success,” said Kyla Gonzales, manager, Talent Management, ConocoPhillips. “We look forward to welcoming six students to our Finance Co-Op program this summer and providing them meaningful, hands-on experiences and learning opportunities.”
Mayor Turner set an ambitious goal for Hire Houston Youth to offer 12,000 available opportunities. The Hire Houston Youth program has now achieved this goal, offering more than 13,500 opportunities on its Job Board located at https://hirehoustonyouth.force.com/s/job-board. This goal could not have been achieved without dedicated employers in the Houston community.
The Mayor’s Office of Education has worked diligently to register employers that reflect current workforce trends and are diverse in nature. To date, the program has received support from nearly 500 entities, all of whom are listed on their website, www.hirehoustonyouth.org, under the ‘Employers’ tab.
Even with the economy on the rebound post pandemic, this year, Hire Houston Youth has offered the greatest number of summer internships in some of the key industries of the city, such as engineering, IT/technology, finance, and more. In 2016, Hire Houston Youth launched with 450 City of Houston jobs and internships, but thanks to some of their key employers, such as HEB, Calpine, Amegy Bank, HP Inc., United Airlines, JP Morgan Chase, and TxDOT, HHY increased its reach to over 30,000 in 2022.
As Houston emerges as an international leader in high-tech jobs and industry, Hire Houston Youth has added more than 1,000 STEM-based jobs for Houston youth with support from a $150,000 grant provided by the National League of Cities. Hire Houston Youth also partnered with the NLC in a program called Re-engaging Opportunity Youth in the South, an effort to expand STEM career pathways for marginalized young people.
“Houston’s future is not only connected to the success of our local youth, but it is dependent on it,” said Olivera Jankovska, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Education. “Our youth deserve employment opportunities that connect them to the local workforce, allowing them to make informed choices about their future career path and contribute to Houston’s economy.”
Employers interested in joining Hire Houston Youth can visit https://hirehoustonyouth.org/employers/, and young adults wanting to register can visit: https://hirehoustonyouth.org/youth/.