BOSTON (WWLP) - Young people say they need jobs to build real world skills and stay out of trouble – but teen summer employment has fallen from about 54 percent in 2000 to 27 percent last year.
Young people from across the state marched to the State House Thursday in support of funding for youth summer jobs. Organizers are asking lawmakers for up to $16 million dollars in funding for two key initiatives.
"We want to empower them at a young age to let them know that we're here for them, you know as long as they do what they're supposed to do, you know life can be much better," said Kashakaw Williams, a jobs mentor at Greater Fall River Recreation.
Youth advocates want lawmakers to fund $11 million dollars for a program that provides salaries to young people working at non-profit companies. They're asking for another $5 million dollars for programs that recruit and train teens for private sector work. Young people say employment keeps them out of trouble.
"We hear everyday on the news about people getting shot, kids going into jail for drugs, kids going into jail for prostitution simply because they don't have money, they don't have things to do and I feel as if they had a job and they're somewhere being productive and getting good experience they won't have time to do things like that," said Angie Auguse, a member of Dorchester Bay Youth Force.
Organizers are also supporting Governor Deval Patrick's proposed tax reforms that create nearly $2 billion in new revenue by increasing the state income tax and eliminating certain tax deductions.
"It's important to help everybody," said Liz Parchinskya of Jamaica Plain. "Everybody should give up the same percentage of what they make to help the community because it's important for everybody to help their community."
A group of kids from Springfield were part of the event, but they left early because they weren't dressed warmly enough for the cold.