VOL. 130 | NO. 51 | Monday, March 16, 2015
Mploy Promises More Than Summer Jobs
By Bill Dries
Approximately 800 teenagers and young adults already had applied for 1,000 summer jobs in a new city program by the time Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. announced it last week.
But Wharton said the Mploy Youth Summer Experience is about more than a two-month paycheck.
“The worst thing in the world is to give them the wrong impression as to what the world of work is about,” Wharton said. “Some may say, ‘Why are you waiting until June 1?’ We want to do it right.”
The program for those ages 14-21 is funded with $2 million Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert pushed for in January when it appeared the city would be without a summer jobs program.
Halbert’s goal was to return a program that has been sporadic in recent years, sustain it and extend it beyond jobs at City Hall and various divisions of city government.
The jobs offered are in health care, banking, the arts, nonprofits and retail.
Kroger’s Delta Division operates its Memphis supermarkets has been involved in previous summer jobs programs with the city. Its involvement in Mploy follows a mob attack last summer in the parking lot of its Poplar Plaza store. The attack that injured two Kroger employees prompted a larger discussion about youth violence and whether the city needs more such programs to combat that violence.
Hattiloo Theater founder Ekundayo Bandele said the Mploy summer employees that come to the theater will do more than work “whether it’s on stage or behind the scenes.”
He said they will learn about the arts and the lesson that “you have to be a practitioner of your art form to master it.”
Wharton said Mploy is open to other corporations, businesses and institutions that want to offer jobs or funding.
“We probably won’t have enough jobs,” Halbert said. “But we are renewing this program and making it bigger and better.”
The applicants, who have until April 4 to apply online at cityofmemphisyouth.org, will be picked through a lottery system with a certain number of slots from each of the seven Memphis City Council districts.
One of the requirements for selection is going through what amounts to a program orientation, the Youth Empowerment Symposium event.
Four will be held March 17-28 at locations across the city.
Those selected for Mploy also will attend one session a week – throughout the program’s six weeks – that offers opportunities like college visits or basic work on job skills.
“Yes, this is a summer job. Students will be paid between $8 and $11 an hour,” said James Nelson, director of the city’s Office of Youth Services. “But Mploy Youth is much more.”
Wharton and Nelson want to specifically target and develop “soft skills” in the teens and young adults.
The basics of applying for and holding a job are the broad definition of soft skills as well as workplace etiquette and workplace culture.
And the lack of those soft skills is a major component of the local government and business community’s drive to create more jobs training and meet the demand of unfilled jobs. Wharton said the training and exposure to more than clocking in for a job and earning a paycheck are mandatory.
“If for some reason they do not wish to accept social responsibility, this may not be the program for them.”