Last month, I told you about an initiative to provide hundreds of young people with summer jobs. Earlier today, I announced another jobs initiative: a partnership of City government, employers, labor unions, universities, the public schools, trade schools, and elected officials that will work together to connect at least 1,000 unemployed and underemployed minority citizens to training and quality jobs over the next three years.
The American dream starts and ends with a good job. Good jobs benefit children, stabilize neighborhoods, and improve communities. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate among young African Americans in St. Louis — and throughout the country is shockingly high.
Too often, that unemployment is due to something other than a lack of jobs. Even in this economy, good jobs are available. But, education and training are paramount. There are very few quality jobs that don’t require some measure of knowledge or skill. The good news is that education and training are available—usually at no cost or little cost. The bad news is that many of these opportunities go unused. That’s what we are going to try to change.
With this new partnership, we are going to focus on eight sectors: health care, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, construction, transportation and warehousing, hospitality, retail trade and information technology.
We will connect potential workers with training and with employers at three career fairs over the next year to be held at the Convention center. (We have done this before with great success. Pinnacle Casinos held a joint career fair with the City of St. Louis and St. Louis Community College last year. Seven hundred African Americans got jobs at Lumiere.)
The first of the new career fairs will be held on April 24th and will focus on health care. At the health care career fair, people will be able to learn about good careers in health care, sign up for training or education, and meet prospective employers. Because many of the training programs or higher educational opportunities require a high school diploma or its equivalent, we will also include assistance with getting a GED. A number of hospitals and health care providers are participating, including BJC, SSM, St. Anthony’s, and others. There are opportunities in nursing, certified nursing assistants, billing clerks and technical jobs.
We will hold the second job fair involving some of the other sectors early this summer, and the third career fair with the rest of the sectors later in the year.
I would particularly like to State Representative Rodney Hubbard for his work with the City on this subject.