Oakland career summit: interviews, hires, community resources

Too many young men of color are missing out on employment opportunities, but the door will be open Thursday when Oakland hosts a career summit and a chance to make connections with companies offering more than 300 employment opportunities. And some are prepared to interview and hire on the spot.

“Every time we get a young person a job, when they get into these magnificent companies that we’ve got coming, they have doors of opportunity open for them,” said Blair Taylor, CEO of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a national nonprofit and one of the many organizations hosting the summit at the Oakland Convention Center. “They are contributing to the economy, and it’s a massive upswing in terms of wealth and wealth creation.”

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance was formed in response to the initiative of the same name launched by President Barack Obama last year to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

Thursday’s event is the inaugural summit. It’s open to all young adults ages 18 to 29, but focuses on addressing employment barriers that uniquely impact boys and men of color.

“There is no group more disenfranchised right now than boys and men of color in cities like Oakland,” Taylor said. “If you look at the unemployment rate for this population, all across the country they lead; in some cases twice the rate of the Great Depression level,” Taylor said. “If we focus on this group, that will have the most significant impact overall on the Oakland economy.”

Thursday, companies such as FedEx, Sprint, Starbucks, and Snapchat will provide more than 300 employment opportunities. Some of the companies hope to offer interviews and hire youth on the spot. Local celebrities and business leaders, such as retired Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, will also be in attendance.

More than a job fair, the summit will also offer resume writing support, mentorship initiatives and mock interview sessions. There will also be approximately 10 nonprofits with the ability to expunge criminal records.

“We have a moral obligation and an economic imperative to ensure that boys and men of color have the skills, resources, and opportunities to contribute fully in the classroom and in the workforce,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in a news release. “Otherwise, we keep them and our country from reaching our full potential.”

Taylor said the companies participating in Thursday’s event are poised to make gains by supporting and employing a population that corporate America has constantly overlooked. He pointed to the ripple effect employment will have on the young men, their families and the city as a whole.
“It’s finally the case that American business is waking up to the lost opportunity with respect to latent talent in communities of color and low-income communities,” he said.

He said the alliance plans to host three or four similar events every year.

“I love the fact that we are coming together in Oakland, we’re displaying exactly the model that needs to work in America,” he said.

Invest in Youth: Pathways to Success job fair summit is Thursday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oakland Convention Center, 550 10th St., Oakland. For more information or to register, visit www.mbkalliance.org/BayArea.

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