October 6


Summer Employment Programs Saving the Lives of New York Youth 

October 6, 2023

Vol. 103 No. 40

NYC runs one of the biggest youth employment programs in the nation, known as the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). It presents youths between the ages of 14 and 24 with career-exploring opportunities and paid work experience in the summer. Through these programs, the youth can explore different interests and career pathways, develop and learn productive workplace skills, and strengthen their social and leadership skills.

Participating in these structured programs makes the youth better prepared for their future careers. It becomes easy for them to tackle any type of program in the future, including special programs such as an online masters in nursing leadership for New York residents. The project-based activities also help enhance their job skills by connecting their workplace skills and learning experiences.

Results of Youth Employment Programs

Youth Employment programming leads to a reduction in the number of arrested youth and mortality rates. This also means the youth’s dependency on income is reduced as they earn through these programs. Most programs take 6 to 8 weeks with three main objectives which are:

  • To give the youth better opportunities for future jobs

  • To provide the youth with some income and especially those from low-income households

  • Keep the youth out of trouble

Better Opportunities for Future Jobs

The youth in these employment programs take up jobs such as camp counselors and working in daycare centers; this means they’re already experienced in this department when they reach an older age. Although they are likely to take up the same jobs at a much-advanced stage, they are already more experienced, giving them the advantage of being a better employee.

They Get to Earn

For youths from disadvantaged or low-income homes, these programs provide an income for them to get a few necessities. This also means the youths won’t engage in dangerous and illegal activities to earn something.

They Stay Out of Trouble

The youth employment programs keep them away from the streets by giving them something to do. These programs also teach the youth responsibility and understanding of the circumstances that surround them. As youths experience real-life incidents in these employment programs, they realize that so much more is happening around them. These programs have also been proven to reduce incarceration and mortality rates.

What Does A Good Youth Program Look Like

A good youth program should evolve. Most jobs that will be relevant for the future account for the lowest percentage of employing the youth.

In New York, the healthcare and technology sector employs about 6%. The media and entertainment only employed 1.7%, and the business and financial services accounted for just 1.3%. The highest percentage of placements is concentrated in lower-paying industries, such as daycare providers and day camps at 15.3%, social services at 7.5%, and retail at 6.4%.

Making a youth employment program the best version of itself involves these three key principles:

  1. Concentrating on building durable skills

Youth employment programs should follow the education concept of building skills over months and years rather than just a couple of weeks. Learning and grasping mathematical concepts in a class doesn’t happen overnight, but takes years to understand.

  1. Having a universal strategy

Partnerships, like the one by CareerReady Work, Learn and Grow, are a collaboration between DYCD and Public Schools in NYC offering an all-year-round employment program serving 3000 schools. Early work experience and skills development are essential for career success in the future.

  1. Rationalizing employment and youth employment functions

Make providers responsible for youth employment program aspects. Employer engagement should be centralized to create more placements for the youth in key sectors.

Future of Youth Employment Programs

The SYEP program reveals the public sector’s ability and power to improve and transform the youths’ lives immediately and in the long run. With new administrations, the youth employment program is becoming a valuable asset. The various forms of support will ensure an amazing return on investment on taxes paid and wages and help youth fulfill their aspirations.

The focus should shift from just making the program bigger to also looking at making it better. SYEP has managed to stand the test of time. These employment programs should be nurtured to provide the youth with endless possibilities. The local government believes in the program, as we see a continuous injection of funds into the programs to ensure more youths can be accommodated.

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