SEATTLE - The city of Seattle is looking for 400 more employers to help them provide thousands of young people in the community with paid summer jobs. It’s all part of the Mayor’s summer youth employment program, an initiative meant to build career pathways for Seattle youth. Last year the program connected 2,000 youth (ages 14-24) with jobs; this year the initiative’s goal doubled to 4,000.

“We solve two challenges with this innovative program. One, we want to make sure youth in our community have meaningful employment opportunities as the summer months come ahead of us. Also, long term I think it’s really important for employers to think about not just their workforce of today, but also their workforce of tomorrow,” Brian Surratt with the City’s office of Economic Development said. “Here’s an opportunity to inspire youth and to get them thinking about their future and what they want to be doing. Everyone’s in competition for talent and here’s an opportunity to develop our homegrown talent for long-term development.”

Several major employers have already stepped forward as partners including the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, and Swedish Hospitals. In total, the city is looking to recruit 400 more employers to offer paid internships, or they are also accepting donations that the city will use to place students with jobs at local non-profits.

“In a community as prosperous as Seattle, our unemployment rate, depending on who you talk to is at 3 and a half percent, 4 percent. Virtual zero unemployment rates here in Seattle. But for youth in our community we hit double-digit unemployment rates,” Surratt said. “Here’s a program that can link some of the brightest minds in some of the most innovative fields in our community with some of the brightest young spirits as well.”

Hafsa Abdinur is a summer youth employment program participant and will be working at the Center for Infectious Disease Research. She graduated from Renton High School in 2016 and will attend the University of Washington this fall. After moving from Kenya two years ago she never thought she would have a job this fast.

“Coming to the United States two years ago I didn’t really visualize myself where I am today. I didn’t think that I would get a job. I didn’t think I would earn money. I just thought four years of high school, four years of college, and after that I would earn money. And after I heard of the SYEP program it was able to provide me with all this opportunity before I even go to college,” Abdinur said. “I hope this will be an eye-opener for me since I am interested in going into medical and I don’t have much experience this will be such a good opportunity that I have before I go to college.”

If you are interested in helping with the summer youth employment program, with either donations or opportunities for young people, click here.