For high school graduates, the big question is what's next?
Of the answer isn't college, finding the next step can be overwhelming. To help combat the stress, local programs are giving Baltimore students the opportunity to gain job experience while connecting employers with qualified young talent.
The nonprofit NPower helped Ricardo Amparo learn the tech skills needed to secure an internship with Kipp Baltimore this summer. Through free training, NPower creates digital career pathways for young adults after high school.
The programs Executive Director for NPower Maryland says about 20 percent of recent Baltimore high school graduates don’t have a job.
"We had about 18,000 disconnected young adults who weren't working in an educational setting or any kind of vocational settings," explained Cathy Morgan, the Executive Director of NPower Maryland.
For students like Amparo, college can't always be the next step. 80 percent of NPower participants go on to get full-time jobs.
"It’s a way for students who didn’t have much to be able to provide for themselves get a career and start moving into the right direction, said Amparo.
In addition to IT support, Amparo mentors youth works students. Amparo and his mentees make up five of about 8,000 that the city’s summer jobs program has placed.
"What’s so important for Baltimore is to prepare our young people for whatever path they chose," explained the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Development Jason Cohen.
This year, the Mayor's office had the largest number of students apply, and a couple thousand more are still waiting for a job. Both organizations offer an opportunity not only for the employees, but for the employers, creating pipelines to young talent.
"Getting your foot in the door and we have lots of young people who find that at the end of the summer," explained Perkins-Cohen. "If it works out for them, the employer wil say say hey you've been great, we'd love to have you stick around."
Empowering the next generation of Baltimore workers to choose their own path.
"I’ve been able to see a way I can move forward now, instead of being stagnant now I can uplift myself and do better," said Amparo.
NPower is looking for young adults to fill up their next class which starts July 23, it's for ages 18 to 25.