Nashville Chases Ambitious Youth Hiring Goal, And Hopes New Online Job Portal Will Help

Mar 3, 2017

Mayor Megan Barry rolls out the next step in her youth employment project on Friday. She’ll unveil the “Opportunity NOW” job portal at Pearl Cohn High School, creating a way for more teens to connect to jobs and paid internships.

The mayor’s office says it is more than halfway to a goal of employing 10,000 youth. About 7,000 paid internships and jobs have been promised, with youth aged 14 to 24 taking positions with the Metro government and employers like HCA, Dollar General, Kroger and the Nashville Sounds.

Some of these were arranged through youth job fairs, like one last year where 15-year-old Joshua Buford sought his first paid position. He had three reasons: to make money, gain experience, and because, he said, “children need something to do.”

“Boredom is what gets children into trouble, I think.”

That idea is a major reason the mayor launched Opportunity Now. It tries to respond to a spike in youth-on-youth violence.

The next step is launching the job portal. The mayor’s office said the tool could entice more companies to take part.

And in her public talks, the mayor is still asking companies to carve out positions for young people.

“You had to get that first job to put you on that path to get your second and third job,” Barry recently said in a talk at the Rotary Club of Nashville. “It is a big, audacious goal to put 10,000 of our kids, age 14 to 24 to work in paid, meaningful internships.”

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