DeKalb’s ‘virtual career academy’ has 850 spots. 7,208 youths applied.

Last week, DeKalb County announced it was converting its annual summer employment program into a "virtual career academy," giving 850 kids and young adults the chance to participate in online job training while also getting paid.

Some 7,208 youths applied, officials said Friday.

“We have experienced unprecedented response to our summer youth employment program, which has been adapted to provide youth with an opportunity to safely learn and earn this summer,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a press release.

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Because of the extraordinary amount of interest, participants will now be chosen at random, the county said. Those selected — who must be between the ages of 14 and 24 — will earn $9 an hour while taking courses covering life skills and job readiness.

Participants can also get credentialed in industries including business technology, game design, website design, healthcare and education, officials said. Those who are not in school can also get access to GED courses and counseling.

The two-month program starts June 1.

DeKalb’s shift to a virtual model for its summer jobs program was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic — and the large amount of interest may also be linked to the virus’ wide-reaching impact.

Georgia has processed more than 1.8 million unemployment claims since the start of March, as struggling businesses cut jobs, furlough workers or close altogether.

And teens — many of whom work in hard-hit restaurant and retail industries — have been among the groups feeling the brunt of job cuts. Earlier this month, CNN reported that the national teen unemployment rate more than tripled between February and April, hitting a record high of nearly 32%.