Program to help young adults get jobs

LOS ANGELES The /*Hire LA's Youth*/ program aims to connect people ages 16 to 24 with local businesses who are hiring for summer and full-time entry-level jobs. The program hopes to place more than 16,000 youths in the city this year.

"I wouldn't mind getting anything right now, so it doesn't matter what it is, I'm not picky," said Ezra Brenes, a youth job seeker.

/*Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa*/ and /*Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ helped kick off the program Monday, which is in its fourth year.

"It makes the kids feel productive, it makes them make their money and most importantly it gets them off the streets where so much crime is happening," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "It gets them away from the gangs, from the violence, from the alcohol, from the drugs and all of those things."

More young people will get their first job through the program thanks to the federal government. L.A. will receive $20 million from the /*American Recovery and Reinvestment Act*/ to fund the program.

"We're going to get 16,500 summer youth jobs thanks to President Barack Obama," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

Dozens of business leaders in the community are pledging their support by hiring young people even though the economy is still suffering. Knowing companies want to see them succeed is good news for high school graduates who know the job market is competitive right now.

"There's definitely a lot of competition, especially since people are getting fired with college degrees," said Darche Lang, a youth job seeker. "You're competing with people with college degrees, you know, versus someone fresh out of high school."

/*Vons*/ and /*Kaiser Permanente*/ are two of the companies that are going to be offering a lot of jobs through the program.

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