The hubbub made it sound like a telemarketing boiler room. More than a dozen people with phones pressed to their ears, jabbering as they read a pitch from scripts. One poor guy had to leave messages for his first half-dozen calls.
“Would you ask him to give Mayor Marty Walsh a call back?” Walsh said. “I want to talk about youth summer jobs.”
The mayor and his Cabinet chiefs cloistered themselves in a City Hall conference room Friday to call nearly 160 local businesses. They were asking employers to hire Boston teens by participating in the city’s annual summer jobs initiative.
“I got one,” shouted the mayor’s chief of staff, Daniel Koh.
Then came another shout.
“Got some,” said the city’s chief of policy, Joyce Linehan, who had been on the phone with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, which is scheduled to open March 31.
The push for summer jobs combines city, state, and private resources to provide employment for Boston public school students. Last year, the program resulted in more than 10,000 jobs, which was more than the previous year but short of Walsh’s goal of 12,000. This year, the mayor is pushing for more.
The program helps keep young people out of trouble in the summer, but it also does much more, according to Josh Bruno, director of employer engagement at the Boston Private Industry Council, which recruits students for jobs with private employers.
“It’s workforce development. It’s kid development,” Bruno said. “But it is also adding to the energy of companies in the summer.”
The program runs seven weeks and costs employers $1,750 to hire a teen for 25 hours a week.
The mayor was back on the phone, leaving another message. Across the room, the city’s housing chief, Sheila A. Dillon, had a nibble on the line.
“If the details can be worked out, can we count on you for one teen?” Dillon asked as she spoke into the phone to Keith Castle of Green Castle Business Solutions. “That’s great, Mr. Castle.”
Dillon hung up the phone and declared, “Got one!”
Walsh dialed another number.
“I’m calling you about summer jobs,” Walsh told Thomas J. May, chief executive of Northeast Utilities. “I know in the past NStar has been part of the program.” May bit.
“Tom’s going to be helpful,” Walsh said after he hung up. “In the past, they have given financial support, but we’re going to work with some folks to get some kids into his company.”
For the day, the city won commitments from seven companies to hire young people. Another 32 companies expressed strong interest.