Hiring teens seen as crime fighting tool as Kansas City group holds job fair

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A labor shortage among employers is creating an opportunity for one youth group to try to curb violence by placing more teenagers into jobs.

Arts Tech is helping young people learn what they need to earn their first steady paycheck.

Summer can be a troublesome time for teens if they are not engaged in the community. That`s why the nonprofit is helping prepare young people to get into the workforce.

“It`s better than having no money at all and staying at home,” Miguel Cadena said.

The 15-year-old went through three days of training, where he learned how a prepare his resume and how best to respond to questions during a job interview.

The skills paid off when his instructors at Arts Tech decided to hire him themselves.

“I wanted to get a job at Save-A-Lot, and I actually did really well,” Cadena said. “The lady liked me. But I decided I actually want to work here for a little while, just because of the environment.”

Miguel is learning how to refurbish laptops and other computers for teens to use as part of a digital literacy program.

And he’ll help prepare other young people for jobs when the agency brings in several employers on Tuesday to interview young people.

Organizers believe the best way to fight crime in the urban core is to help young people find meaningful employment.

“People who are employed are tired when they get off,” said Ronald Hunt, an Arts Tech volunteer. “They come home to a good meal. Their girlfriend or their wife is happy because they are working. There`s no money issues, so when you`re working, you are less likely to get off into criminal activity.”

Hunt said the group will also help parents of young people who don’t have work. Employers including Home Depot, Walgreens and the Power and Light District all will be interviewing for year round positions.

The summer jobs program also will be part of Mayor’s Nights events, which on Friday will host a hip hop DJ dance off at the St. Regis school gym.

Young people interested in working should go to Arts Tech at 15th and Holmes streets at 3 p.m. Tuesday where mentors will help them prepare for job interviews later in the afternoon.

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