By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Many employers are still struggling to hire as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is teens will fill open positions over the summer, especially in restaurants and retail.

The City of Denver’s youth employment program is trying to help young people secure jobs.

(credit: CBS)

“We used to struggle to get employers willing to take on a young person. Now we have lots of employers,” said Susan Liehe with Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Opportunity. “I think employers who are willing to hire a little younger than they might have been are willing to do so because they’re anxious for some talent.”

Denver City Council will vote to approve an agreement between the city and Denver Public Schools for $600,000 to help 194 young people gain valuable work experience.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the city offered virtual job training that paid teens to get online work experience.

Denver’s Youth Employment Program in 2022 will still offer job training prior to setting teens up with various work opportunities across the area.

SECTION: Making Ends Meet

“They’ll also get someone from the DPS team or our own team working to follow along all summer. If they have a problem with the employer, or the employer’s dissatisfied, we can step in. It’s not just a one and done and after the 10th of June you don’t hear from us again. It’s a case management model,” said Liehe.

(credit: CBS)

Liehe says students will also get guidance in financial planning, filing taxes, etc.

The program is focused on youth from lower-income families. According to the city, DPS plans to help teens with barriers to employment such as being an English language learner, having a cognitive or physical disability or living in foster care.

“Transportation is also a barrier. They may have a driver’s license or access to a car. Our program provides an eco pass. We try to match our young workers with an employer that is someone they can get to,” said Liehe.

Teens will have the opportunity to work 120 hours earning at least the minimum wage.

MORE INFORMATION: Denver Youth Employment Program

Tori Mason