City leaders push for youth summer employment to help address pandemic effects, worker shortages

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – City and county leaders kicked off the unofficial start of summer with a call to parents and young people to participate in extended learning and recreation programs from Milwaukee Public Schools as well as seasonal employment opportunities around the county.

The effort comes as the city outpaces last year’s violence and recovers from the pandemic.

“We think it is incredibly, incredibly important that we provide positive opportunities for young people this summer in particular,” Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a news conference Monday, May 31.

MPS is offering programs for both summer learning and recreation.

“We want all of our young people to be safe, have fun, to learn and make money this summer,” MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley said.

There’s also a push for youth employment. The city is getting a boost in the form of $3.8 million it is allocating to Employ Milwaukee for youth employment efforts. Those funds come from the Biden administration’s Covid relief package.

The city is surpassing 2020’s violence in homicides and non-fatal shootings. Those incidents have included many young people. Mayor Barrett hopes the programs and job opportunities help address the violence.

“Last year the numbers went in completely the wrong direction and they’ve stayed high, unfortunately,” Mayor Barrett told CBS 58. “And so we think this is an important part of having activities, I mean people have been cooped up, people have been frustrated, there have been mental health issues, there have been economic issues, and the more we can intervene in a positive way, the more success we can have.”

The youth employment effort also aims to partially address worker shortages in the county. That includes the county-wide shortage in lifeguards.

“We’re still going to keep McKinley Beach closed, right?” Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said in an interview. “It’s been hard for us to find open water lifeguards, but we want people to apply because hopefully we’re going to have a hot summer. But we want people to enjoy our Milwaukee County Parks.”

More information on Employ Milwaukee’s opportunities for summer employment can be found here.

More information on MPS extended learning opportunities can be found here.

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