A Prince George's County program that sponsors hoped would provide private jobs for 600 county teen-agers this summer has placed only one-quarter of that number because of the economy and cutbacks in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program.
The county program, Summer Jobs for Youth, was started five years ago as a job referral service for youths whose family incomes exceed the guidelines for a larger, federally funded summer jobs program. The mostly high school-aged youths listed their interests and abilities on professional application forms and received counseling from employment specialists, who then attempted to match them with prospective employers and arranged interviews.
Last summer the program found almost 300 jobs, according to deputy personnel officer Michael Frank. But when program planners learned that federal budget cutbacks would lead to layoffs of 319 county CETA workers, a program also run locally by the county personnel department, they did not make a great effort to seek applications for the youth program.
"When we went to the employers, we were beating extra hard to get these PSE's [public sector employes] placed," said Joseph Puhalla, acting chief of planning for the county CETA program who is in charge of the summer jobs program. "After training, we had a commitment to these people," he said.
"The fact is that when we knew that 319 people, who sole hope in life was the CETA program, would hit the streets by June, ethics as well as administrative rules dictated that if you could apply leverage for them, you would," said Frank.
The county personnel department also runs the Summer Youth Employment Program that, according to spokesmen, has placed over 1,600 Prince George's youths with poverty-level family incomes in minimum-wage jobs for the summer.
But Barbara Anthon, director of the program, which is funded under a different part of CETA than the public jobs, said that their guidelines for determining poverty were so low that as many as 1,000 youths were turned away because their family's income was too high.
Some 400 persons applied to the private sector program, most within 10 days of the end of school. All 150 jobs were taken by the first week in July. The program stopped taking applications last week.
One factor hampering job placements, program officials said, was lack of staff. Puhalla said there were nine workers handling the program in 1978, compared to three this year. He also noted that most of the jobs were developed by the Board of Trade and referred to the program over a month before the end of school, well before program workers could identify youths to apply for them.
Vincent Burgess, 19, who needs money to help cover expenses when he returns to Towson State University, went to the program office the second week in June, received a half-dozen referrals but had no luck.
"Quite a few were fast food places. The managers always seemed to be ducking people. I tried six others but they were full or I never got to talk to the manager or they never called me back," said Burgess, who hopes to land a night janitor job in Upper Marlboro before the end of the summer.
"The main reason for my summer job is to help me get money to go to school," said the Lanham resident, whose summer is now taken up with television and want ads.
"Socially it's not too good because you need money to do quite a few things -- it's a lot of nights at home."