Life skills as worthwile as $11 hourly pay for teens in Hillsborough summer work program

It's January, but an ambitious program to provide summer jobs for teens and young adults is already underway in Hillsborough County.

John Flanagan, CEO of Career Source Tampa Bay says unemployment for that segment of the population is more than 10%.

"So you've got a significant part of the population that is not able to enjoy the economy, as most of us do," he explained.

Flanagan, who helped build a program that employed 10,000 young people in Philadelphia, believes a summer work program in Hillsborough County can be tripled in size this summer.

In its first summer, in 2019, 500 young people had jobs through the Summer Job Connection Program. This year, organizers believe 1,500 can be employed.

The program pays $11 an hour for a 24-hour workweek. The jobs are with local companies, but the county pays the salaries.

County Commissioner Sandy Murman says she will ask local businesses and fellow commissioners to help support the expanded program.

"We're starting early," says Murman. "We've got a good five to six months to get employers engaged. I think we'll far surpass our goal." 

Organizers say young workers can learn life skills as well as employment skills.

"Youth can come in, learn about the world of work, and maybe put a little money in their pockets through a paid work experience," Flanagan said.

To apply for summer work through the program, visit