Helping young people launch their careers

FRESNO, California

The summer jobs program will provide 150 teens involved with the club career training opportunities. At the end, 50 of those students will be selected for a paid summer job.

"For them to have a paycheck, it's going to be a great experience. They're going to have money to spend on things they want and they've earned that money," said Rami Abunamous, a senior at Clovis West High School. Abunamous is looking forward to the program. He said he's seen a lot of stiff competition from more experienced job applicants when looking for summer work. "They know how to go into an interview. They know how to be dressed, they know what to look forward to. But us teenagers, we really don't know what to look forward to," said Abunamous.

The stiff competition is coming from high unemployment. Fresno's unemployment is at 16.2 percent, that's just below the county's rate of 17.3 percent. "We suffer from chronically high unemployment here in Fresno and among our younger age workers, the unemployment rates are even higher than the overall population. We really struggle to find meaningful job opportunities for our youth, who need to work during the summers to help pay for the school expenses," said Ashley Swearengin, Fresno Mayor.

Swearengin said federal grant dollars that used to provide youth training skills dried up because of budget cuts so PG&E is stepping up to launch the pilot program. "PG&E will certainly provide internships for some of the 50 youth that complete the program, but it's also other businesses in Fresno like Me & Ed's Pizza, the Red Cross," said Greg Pruett with PG&E.

Many of the teens are hopeful they will land a summer job and are already thinking of how to spend the money. "I'll buy some clothes, some shoes, spoil myself a little bit," said Abunamous.

The program is still looking for employers who think they can be mentors and provide jobs for these youth. The deadline to apply for a spot is Friday, April 6th.

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