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KC looks to expand summer jobs program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The city wants to expand it's summer jobs program for young people, asking area employers to offer twice as many opportunities as last year.

Nearly 50 students at Manual Career and Technical Center received job offers Wednesday.

"There are a lot of restaurants in this town that are fully staffed," said Kevin Timmons, owner of Nick and Jake's. "There are a lot of restaurants in this town that are looking for staff. And more importantly, there’s a lot of restaurants in this town looking for young staff that can learn, train and develop within the culture of that restaurant. Grow within the organization."

Providing a pathway for young people to get in the workforce has been a priority for Mayor Sly James. He called a job the best social program to keep a kid out of trouble.

Culinary students like Devion Bailey cooked and served breakfast for area employers this morning as the city urged businesses to expand their summer hiring.

Bailey said it's been hard to find work on his own, but the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association surprised him by offering summer jobs to all of the kids in his program.

"I’m more comfortable talking to people," said Bailey, 17. "You learn how to put up with moods. Angry people. Angry customers, how to deal with that. You also get to learn better how to work well with others. Especially if you haven’t played sports, you get to learn how to work as a team."

Some might view restaurant work as a low paying, dead end opportunity, but Timmons said a third of the American workforce got their first job in a restaurant, where they learned essential skills needed in almost any career, including customer service, teamwork and punctuality.

Summer jobs are important because the mayor says there are 31,000 people in the area between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working.

Learn more at HireKCYouth.org.