Getting acclimated was the initial assignment for 25 youths, ages 14 to 18, arriving at work excited and prepared for the first day of their Summer jobs in the City of Opa-locka, during a time when the economic downturn limited job prospects in numerous industries and locations. However, the City of Opa locka exceeded its plan to fill 20 positions, when hosting the Summer Job Fair, spearheaded by Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, with support from the Mayor and City Commission.
Recognizing the devastating impact the economy has had on the City of Opa-locka, particularly the youth, Vice Mayor Kelley sent letters to Opa-locka businesses requesting support for the City’s employment endeavor by either employing a youth for the summer, or contributing funds to support the effort. Commissioner Timothy Holmes received enough donations for the program to hire five additional youths, beyond the 20 initially slated for the job program.
Studies have shown that from June to August, fewer than three in 10 American teenagers hold jobs which are typically designated for them, including operating cash registers, mowing lawns or bussing restaurant tables. Teens across the country found employment opportunities few and far between. Each summer, they are being squeezed-out of work in service and retail by unemployed adults. “It has been particularly hard on those with the least experience,” noted Vice Mayor Kelley while referencing the teenagers. “This is the time young people should be learning the ‘soft’ skills of being employed, such as punctuality, customer service, phone and dress etiquette, as well as the proper way to conduct oneself in the workplace; all necessary for their future success in the job market,” stated Commissioner Timothy Holmes.
Over sixty applicants, accompanied by their parents, attended the job fair, submitted applications and received “on-the-spot” interviews. Aware at the time that only 20 positions were available, most came equipped to compete! Upon arriving, only a couple of the youths had to be redirected at the door, due to improper attire; a subject addressed in the guidelines of all advertisements, prior to the fair. At which point, understanding the severity and the nature of the competitive summer job market in the City of Opa-locka, each departed, later returning properly dressed and fully prepared for the interview. “We were very impressed with the advance preparation taken, by those who arrived with polished resumes and an ‘interview ready’ attitude,” added Holmes.
Although everyone who applied did not receive a position with the City of Opalocka this past summer, Vice Mayor Kelley said is hoping that funds will continue to come in, so that NEXT year, other teens will be added to the program. Kelley said, “Overall, I hope that the process, from application to employment, has been a knowledgeable and rewarding experience for all who participated this year in the Summer Job program in the Great City of Opalocka.”