IN MATCHING WASHINGTONS teen-agers and summer jobs, many employers participating for the first time are understandably apprehensive. Having had little or no working experience with today's inner-city youth, these employers do not know what to expect or whether this kind of hiring will do any good for their business. But those in government and the private sector who have participated in past summer jobs programs generally are quite pleased with the results.

At Safeway Stores, Inc., for example, more than 600 young people between the ages of 16 and 21 work as regular employees in branches throughout the area. Safeway public-affairs manager Ernest Moore notes that many of these youngsters started with summer jobs: "The net result for area business is a new labor pool, already familiar with, in our case, the retail food business - a pool of young people at least partially trained to move into more permanent employment positions, with minimal new training required."

In turn, Mr. Moore says that at Safeway - "an active and enthusiastic supporter" of the summer jobs effort - management has become "acutely aware of the problems young people have when they move from student to active member of the labor force." These include the cost of higher education, which summer employment helps to meet. The local programs also have assisted youngsters who are undecided on careers but who are eager to use their spare time constructively.

Just as in the adult world, not all the youngsters hired by area employers have worked out perfectly. District government officials are the first to acknowledge that certain teen-agers need special pre-job training in work attitudes, preparation for job interviews and other tips on impressing employers and colleagues. This year, in fact, City Hall experts will be placing special emphasis on providing this training for those who need it, before referring them to employers. In addition, the coordinators are trying as much as possible to match youngsters' interests with jobs.

But right now the urgent priority is to find more employers willing to join those who have tried the program and found it to their benefit in so many ways. There has been progress; offers are coming in from a number of fields that have not been that active in the past. Yesterday, for example, interest was expressed by some public accounting offices and tailoring firms, and there were additional requests from past participating companies. But the number of teen-agers looking for jobs keeps going up too - and the community can use all the help that Mayor Barry, Congress and private citizens see fit to offer.