Unprecedented applications for first-ever DeKalb County Virtual Career Academy

Due to coronavirus concerns, DeKalb County's "Summer Jobs" program is going virtual this year. They had an unprecedented response, with 7,208 youth applying for the 850 spots.

Local youth have had a tough time finding employment since the health crisis became an economic one, too.

"This year because of the coronavirus I wasn't able to coach swim team," Maci Yeager, 17, lamented. "I don't work during the school year since I'm a dual enrollment student, and school is my job," the rising high school senior added.

JeVon Goff, who in the past secured warehouse work or restaurant shifts to put money in his pocket, is happy to find work while learning. 

The rising college sophomore says it's a great way to dip a toe into different professions:

"If we get this opportunity to really experience the jobs we are curious about getting in to in the future, we can see if this is something we actually want to do," he said.

The program, which runs from June 1 to July 31, has students ages 14 to 24. Each will be paid $9 per hour for up to 20 hours per week while learning online. Virtual skills are now vital for staying relevant in the workplace, says DeKalb's CEO Michael Thurmond:

"Post COVID-19 you will see a sharp increase of jobs that require remote work stations. The virtual employment reality is upon us," he told FOX 5's Kaitlyn Pratt.

The Academy's slogan is "Learning & Earning." The approach takes three directions: Academic enrichment, life skills enhancement and career development.

"We're focused on things like business technology courses, computer repair courses, healthcare and information technology," detailed Theresa Austin-Gibbons with WorkSource DeKalb, one of the program's partners.

The DeKalb Virtual Career Academy is also partnered with the DeKalb County School District and Georgia Piedmont Technical College.