CareerSource Tampa Bay hires director of youth programs

Anyone who was lucky enough to have had a summer job knows it can be a rite of passage giving teens some spending cash and a peek into the working world. But it can also be equally beneficial for employers, particularly small businesses.

You know those little projects that have been stacking up because you don’t have an extra set of hands, or how you don’t have enough servers to keep your pizza shop open full hours? Well, CareerSource Tampa Bay Summer Hires Youth Employment Program might be able to give your business the boost it needs – and at no cost to you.

CareerSource Tampa Bay works with businesses and job candidates to leverage their training, retraining, and competitive opportunities in the workforce, including the Summer Hires program, in promoting today’s youth as tomorrow’s future workforce in Hillsborough County. The program, primarily for youngsters from low-income families, is funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Payroll services and career counseling are handled by CareerSource Tampa Bay. This year, about 800 youth will participate in the six-week paid internship, and will be paid $15 per hour, but we need more opportunities to ensure we meet that goal.

We’re looking for business partners to place motivated youth, between the ages of 16 to 24, in a summer job. Some of the areas we’re seeking positions in are manufacturing, construction and building trades, hospitality and tourism, logistics, transportation, retail, financial shared services, health care and information technology. This innovative program allows youth to explore careers in local government jobs, corporate, small business and nonprofit positions while employers reap the benefit of up to 20 hours of work, weekly, per individual.

This program, which began in 2019, introduces youth to the world of work and exposes them to new experiences, ideas and potential career paths for the future through hands-on, real-world work experience, in targeted and in-demand industries, while being paid.

What employers get are more workers without having to absorb the cost but it’s more than that, too. Employers get the opportunity to engage with a young adult and perhaps even become a lifelong mentor. It allows you to help shape the future workforce in Hillsborough County. And it might just put the wind back in your sails. Sometimes when you’ve been in an industry for a while, you might lose your passion. So, these young adults come in, and they bring innovative ideas, creativity and they are known to liven up workplaces by providing some refreshing energy and reinvigorating the environment around them. It definitely recharges the people who participate.

Since its inception, Summer Hires has provided about 1,800 youth with summer employment through paid internships and more than 112 local employers have participated in the program providing more than 900 positions for young adults in Hillsborough County.

This program would not work without the support of our business community. Our business community has been key to our success by meeting businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improving our regional talent pipelines and expanding workplace learning opportunities through our paid work experience model. We’re looking forward to expanding it to more businesses and, eventually, more young people. To learn more and to apply to be one of our businesses, visit us at EMPLOYER INFORMATION – CareerSource Tampa Bay.

Leondra Foster is the Director of Youth programs at CareerSource Tampa Bay.  Leondra is a first-generation college student and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Saint Leo University. Leondra has devoted her career to serving people through the non-profit sector with an emphasis on the economic development and empowerment of all people in underserved communities.

Leondra is dedicated to creating safe spaces for youth where they can heal generational trauma, explore new behaviors, and develop healthy career relationships.

Leondra aspires to create community everywhere she goes and believes that “people can” when given the resource; but “people do” when given the encouragement and mentorship to develop.

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