VOL. 132 | NO. 64 | Thursday, March 30, 2017
MBX Teen Workforce Seminar, Job Fair April 1-2
By Don Wade
The 21 percent youth unemployment rate in Memphis in 2015 is evidence of one challenge. It goes further.
Dr. Ericka Gunn-Hill is director of youth empowerment for the Memphis Black Expo, which is having its Workforce Ready Seminar and Youth Summer Job Fair at Hamilton High April 1-2.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
“It’s an issue plaguing Memphis because a large population of teens are unemployed, but also a large population has no job training,” said community advocate Jaques Hamilton, who will be helping teens ages 16-19 with resume writing, interview preparation and other skills as part of the Memphis Black Expo (MBX) Workforce Ready Seminar and Youth Summer Job Fair at Hamilton High School.
“We really want to get the business community to buy-in,” said Dr. Ericka Gunn-Hill, MBX director of youth empowerment. “As the future of youth goes, so goes the city of Memphis.”
The Workforce Ready Seminar is Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Youth Summer Job Fair is Sunday, April 2, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Both events are free. To register, go to memphisblackexpoyouth.eventbrite.com. If you have questions, email email@example.com.
Confirmed employers for the job fair include Panera Bread, the Memphis Police Department, McDonald’s, Plato’s Closet, IHOP, Captain D’s, Popeye’s, Starbucks, Walgreens, A-1 Empowerment and Malco Theatres. Hamilton High School is located at 1363 E. Person Ave.
Co-sponsors of the two-day event are UCAN of Memphis, St. Andrew AME Church and the Workforce Investment Network.
Hill says there is still plenty of room for more teens at the seminar and fair and they are hoping to get 150 attendees total.
“It can have a great impact providing skills needed not just for summer employment, but beyond for careers,” she said. “It’s also something positive to do with their time in the summer. When you have idle time, youth don’t always make wise choices.”
Hamilton has noticed several things when working with teens. First, they may not realize that they have skills and experience that’s worthy of being on a resume – everything from volunteer work they’ve done to involvement in extracurricular activities at school.
This generation is no doubt more tech savvy and Hamilton gives technology its due for providing “unlimited access to knowledge.” But teens communicating by text is not exactly a good training ground for communicating with adults and potential employers.
“It catches up with them when you talk about writing a cover letter,” he said. “Because they’re using broken English.”
The seminar is not limited to job skills training. Hill says there is also a degree of mentoring and personal development. Again, the goal is to provide assistance short-term and long-term.
“It goes to self-esteem and their personal lives, how they interact with their families and see their futures,” she said.
Besides mock interviews, there will also be a professional attire fashion show.
“Proper attire can make you or break you, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” Hamilton said. “But if you don’t fit the mold, it doesn’t matter how smart you are.”