OPA-LOCKA – Getting acclimated was the initial assignment for 25 youths, ages 14 – 18, arriving at work excited and prepared for the first day of their summer jobs in the city of Opa-locka. At a time when the economic downturn has limited job prospects, the city exceeded its plan to fill 20 positions, while hosting its Summer Job Fair,. The Fair was spearheaded by Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley on June 13 with support from Mayor Myra L. Taylor and the City Commission at the Opa-locka Municipal Complex Building, 780 Fisherman Street.
Noting the devastating impact the economy has had on the city, particularly its youth, Vice Mayor Kelley sent letters to Opa-locka businesses requesting support for the endeavor by either employing a youth for the summer or contributing funds to support the effort.
Teens across the country are finding employment opportunities few and far between, he noted, and also are being squeezed-out of work in service and retail by unemployed adults. “It has been particularly hard on those with the least experience,” Kelley said.
Commissioner Timothy Holmes reported sufficient support to hire five additional youths beyond the 20 initially slated for the job program.
“This is the time young people should be learning the ‘soft’ skills of being employed, such as punctuality, customer service, phone and dress etiquette, as well as the proper way to conduct oneself in the workplace, all necessary for their future success in the job market,” Holmes said.
More than 60 applicants accompanied by their parents attended the job fair, submitted applications and received “on-the-spot” interviews.
Most came equipped to compete, officials said, and only a couple of youths had to be redirected at the door due to improper attire, a subject addressed in the guidelines of all advertisements prior to the fair. Each youth returned properly dressed and fully prepared for the interview.
“We were very impressed with the advance preparation taken, by those who arrived with polished resumes and an “interview ready” attitude,” added Holmes.
Although not everyone who applied received a position, Kelley said he is hoping funds will continue to come in so that other teens can be added to the program. Overall, he said, he is hoping that the process, from application to employment, has been a knowledgeable and rewarding experience for all who participated.