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Teen Encounters Problems With Summer Job Program

An El Paso teen says she’ll never forget her first job experience because she was sent home on the first day – and it wasn’t even her fault.

“I was already planning everything I wanted to buy,” Jade De Santiago said.

De Santiago was so eager to start earning some extra cash this summer that she stood in a line for six hours – just to fill out an application – and then took a three hour orientation.

“We’ve had over 5,000 applicants,” said Becky Estorga, Assistant Director with Workforce Solutions. The agency is in charge of a widely publicized and federally funded youth summer work program that offers a job based on income guidelines to 16-to-24 year olds.

Estorga says 2,800 people have been placed with a job, including Jade, who picked an ice cream shop near her home.

But Jade’s first day of work didn’t go well.

“She’s getting mad at me that I don’t speak Spanish, but she doesn’t speak English,” said Jade about the shop’s owner.

Even though being bilingual was never listed as a requirement, Jade was let go immediately by the owner for not speaking Spanish.

“I was disappointed, I was about to cry,” Jade said.

And that was just the beginning.

When Jade and her mother went back to the long lines at Workforce Solutions, she was told that there were too many kids to place, she’s already been placed and since she didn’t accept it, she can’t be placed again, according to Jade.

Estorga admits some issues are bound to happen when dealing with thousands, but says they’re already working on them.

“We’ve spoken to the employee about customer service training,” Estorga said.

Soon after ABC-7 contacted Workforce Solutions, Jade was placed at another job where she’s already working on making that extra cash she wanted for the summer.

If you’re an employer interested in hiring some free help, you can call 887-2666.

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