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Covid-19 sees New York suspend youth employment scheme

HOST, CIARA LONG: Every summer, New York state sends teenagers and young adults on paid work placements. It’s the largest program of its kind in the nation: last year, New York’s Summer Youth Emp

loyment Program found placements for 75,000 participants. But this summer, thanks to the coronavirus, the state has announced it is. suspending the program. Ileen Devault is a professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. I asked her what the impact of coronavirus is going to be on the employment outlook for young people over the summer months. ILEEN DEVAULT: A lot of the jobs that we think of young people having over a summer, working in an ice cream shop, for example, these kinds of very low wage job opportunities for young people are just not going to be available this year. And frankly, we may find older people accepting those kinds of low wage jobs if their jobs have disappeared completely. LONG: What does it mean for people who already come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to not have this when it comes to looking for work in the future?

DEVAULT: It's critical at this point, people in the lowest income quintile in the US right now, are the most likely to be completely unemployed at this particular moment. And so those kids, kids from exactly those families are the ones where their money will actually help their family survive if they have a basic job like this, even if it's a low income position. What having any job does for a young person is to teach them how to show up on time. What does it mean to be a worker in the United States, what’s expected of you? You know, working with a boss, working with coworkers, all of those things are really crucial. Skills. So in the long run it hurts these young people even more. LONG: What sort of options do they have without this promise of summer work and pay, especially during the pandemic? And what does it mean for them and their families? DEVAULT: I have no idea what other choices they have. I think the answer is they won’t have other choices. I think it's going to mean if they're graduating from high school, and we're counting on some of that money to help them begin college for example, it may mean that they won't feel like they can begin college. For others, it won't help put food on their family's tables. And for many families, that's going to continue to be a really critical issue, certainly through this summer and even longer. LONG: One solution that's been proposed is that, you know, some of these jobs could be done virtually and that the state is actually missing a huge opportunity by not examining that possibility. DEVAULT: I don't know how much of that can be done virtually. I mean, the people I know who are in those kinds of jobs, here in Ithaca. Um, you know, are running camp like programs and, and if none of those are probably going to be happening. if we're talking about low income students, then what's their connectivity situation you know, do they have the ability to to work virtually not ever Everybody has a computer that is going to support zoom, for example. LONG: That's a really important point. Thank you. Ileen Devault from Cornell University. Thank you for being here today. DEVAULT: Thank you Ciara. It's been great.


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