WHATEVER FOOTBALL FANS here thought of George Allen as a coach, he did wonders for this region in another role: chairman of the local summer jobs drives for seven years. In the year before Mr. Allen took over, area businesses pledged 14,000 jobs. Last year, the local identified more than 38,000 jobs, including-and here are two important categories-hundreds of rehires from previous years and thousands of positions for which students hired as part-time employees during the school year became full-time summer workers. Redskins coach Jack Pardee is serious, too, about taking an active role as this year's general chairman and is eager to break the record. But what do these successful efforts (for years, Washington's program has been the best of any metropolitan effort in the country) tell us about matching young people and jobs?
As in the unemployment picture nationally, the most serious problem is among black youths; not even counting the summer students, the jobless rate has been running between 30 percent and 40 percent in the city. Local governments in this region are coming to realize that isn't merely a problem for the District; changes in living and work habits call for new collective thinking in promoting economic development and making the best use of an areawide job market. Thus, in terms of hiring, jurisdictional boundaries mean less and less, and blacks are filling more suburban jobs. As more and more Metro rail servicee opens, this trend should continue.
But beyond the summers, what kinds of jobs and careers should today's youth be seeking in this region? What could schools be helping them to prepare for? Obviously, the federal government is an important presence. Washington also continues to grow as a business and financial center. Food and beverage providers were among the fast-growing area industries in the early 1970s; and clerical work continues to offer a large proportion of the job openings-cashiers, bookkeepers, accountants and receptionists are considered good positions to seek.
In other cities, of course, the job patterns and programs differ. But the efforts of the National Alliance of Business, for whom George Allen is now touring and promoting job programs, has been impressive. The experience of Mr. Allen as this kind of coach should be valuable as all metropolitan areas continue trying to do something about the unemployed in general and black youths in particular.