The city of Charleston and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce are challenging Lowcountry businesses to employ a total of 1,000 high school and college students this summer as part of the Mayor’s Youth Employment Challenge.
“What better opportunity do we have to train students and to build our workforce than through real, hands-on experience, summer job opportunities and employment?” said Mayor John Tecklenburg.
The city and the chamber are asking businesses to hire at least two youth employees for the summer and provide a “real job,” according to Tecklenburg, which includes at least 12 hours of work per week and pays a reasonable wage.
“And to provide some mentorship,” Tecklenburg said. “Not just to put them to work with a road job, but to give them some guidance and mentorship and help them learn a new skill and get ready to be in the workplace.”
Tecklenburg said the city is committed to hiring 51 youth employees, made up of at least 36 high school students and 12 college students.
Other businesses that have already taken up the challenge are Charleston Southern University, which has committed to hiring 50 youth employees; the Charleston RiverDogs; the S.C. Aquarium, which will hire 10 high school students; the Charleston office of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA; and Donut Connection, a doughnut shop in Goose Creek that has committed to hiring two youth employees.
“Talent development is economic development, and that is why we’ve invested heavily in talent advancement as part of our platform,” said Tina Wirth, senior vice president of talent advancement at the chamber.
She added that research also shows that young people who are employed “do better in life.”
“If someone has a summer job, 10 years later they have higher earning income and quality jobs than if they don’t have that summer experience,” Wirth said.
Evan Tobia, a senior at Fort Dorchester High School who is interested in political science, thanked the business community for creating employment opportunities for himself and his peers.
“It’s an opportunity that you might not get further down the line, and I’d inspire all willing to take it,” he said.
Wirth said the challenge is targeted toward students between 16 and 18 years old who are committed to showing up on time and learning in a workplace environment. Businesses interested in participating in the challenge may fill out a form (.pdf).
“Everyone remembers their first jobs,” Wirth said. “It’s the first line on your resume, it is the basis by which you build skills and understand the workplace, so I do encourage all the businesses in the community: Be someone’s first job. Be someone’s first memory of a positive work experience.”