Tampa launches annual youth workforce program in east Tampa

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The jobs pay $8.46 an hour, but the work is about more than a paycheck.

The city of Tampa launched an annual youth workforce program Tuesday.

Every summer, the city hires 48 teenagers ages 16 to 18 to work in its code enforcement department.

The city hires 36 kids from east Tampa and another 12 citywide.

The kids learn how to operate lawn mowers and trimmers to clean up neighborhoods in east Tampa. They also help collect litter. East Tampa is saturated with some of the city’s highest concentrations of blight and is home to some of Tampa’s lowest-income families. 

The jobs pay $8.46 an hour, but the work is about more than a paycheck.

They get to see the everyday work that goes on in their neighborhoods by the dedicated city employees,” said Sal Ruggiero, the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Division manager. “We put them with senior employees who are showing them the path and helping these young kids develop a work ethic.”

The program also provides free life skills training classes through the Community Development Corporation that provides the youngsters with tips on how to prepare a work resume and to have positive work etiquette.

“Last year we had a senior in high school in the program. At the end of the summer, he clearly paid attention in the classes, he presented a resume and happened to get hired,” Ruggiero said.

That happens a lot, Ruggiero said.

A woman now in her 30s spoke to this year’s group of hires. She worked in the same program when she was a teenager and then got hired full-time with the city, where she still works.

The seven-week program provides employment and training from June 4 through July 26.

The city has been running the program for about 15 years. It’s funded through the East Tampa Community Redevelopment Area tax funds raised from property taxes.

This year, students will also help with a project installing trash receptacles in four areas of East Tampa.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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