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|NLWC to offer summer youth employment opportunity|
Federal economic stimulus funding has cleared the way this summer for 180 jobs for Local Workforce Investment Area-83 youth (Caldwell, East Carroll, Franklin, Jackson, Madison, Richland and Tensas parishes). The Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $1.2 billion nationally for WIA Youth activities.
"LWIA-83 has been awarded early $600,000 in funding through the stimulus package to hire youth to participate In an eight-week summer work program in its seven-parish area," said Katie McCarty, program director of NE Louisiana Workforce Centers, Inc. (NLWC).
Recent downturns in the economy have also affected young workers. Teens are competing with more and more jobseekers for the low-skill jobs that are traditionally open to youth during the summer, such as those in food services and retail. The job pool now includes displaced workers. retirement-aged workers, and in some places recent immigrants. These workers are often more attractive to employers than inexperienced young people.
Working youth do not just earn a paycheck. Work experience motivates young people to finish high school, continue their education and get on a path toward a lifetime of self-sufficiency. Teens who work while in high school are more likely to graduate. Each year that teens work, increases the likelihood that they will work the next year. Early work experience significantly increases future earnings. Encouraging youth to work in the summer and helping them access opportunities is key to their success. Summer jobs keep youth -- especially those who are disadvantaged -- out of trouble, engage them with positive adult role models, and get them back to school in the fall. When youth explore careers through hands-on experience, they make choices that are more positive for their futures.
McCarty says, "The Career Coordinators in the Career Solutions Centers wil1 make every effort to match worksites with the youth's interests and goals." The program is designed to structure the work experience to impart measurable communication, interpersonal, decision-making, and learning skills in the workplace. NLWC encourages policies to ensure current workplace safety guidelines and applicable federal/state wage laws are followed.
The funding will allow for development of work experiences and other activities that expose youth to opportunities in "green" careers. Each parish Career Solutions Center will identify businesses promoting green jobs and products to provide summer work experiences that will prepare youth to compete in a green economy.
The Recovery Act includes two significant changes to youth activities provided under the Workforce Investment Act: the maximum age of eligibility is increased to 24 years of age and a work readiness indicator will be used to assess the effectiveness of the summer employment.
"The most common request of employers is soft skill training of potential and current employees. If during the summer program, employers will spend just a little time and patience showing the youth how to work, they will usually be happy with their worker and teach them a valuable life lesson," said Kathryn Owens, Career Coordinator. "When they come Into the program, it is typically their first job and they don't know anything about work. We ask employers to remember that."
An employer who has participated in the work experience program in the past said, "You have to give them a little guidance and discipline and help them understand that they have got to devote time to what they are doing rather than lollygagging. It gives them real work experience."
NLWC is focusing services on the youth most in need including out-of-school youth and those most at risk of dropping out, youth in and aging out of foster care, youth offenders and those at risk of court involvement, homeless and runaway youth, children of incarcerated parents, and youth with disabilities. Given the expanded age range to 24 under the Recovery Act, the program may see an increased volume of veterans. Priority of services for veterans and eligible spouses will be provided. There is also a requirement that local areas expend a minimum of 30 percent of Recovery Act funds on out-of-school youth.
NLWC will consider a combination of public sector, private sector, and non-profit summer employment worksites. Kelli Austin, Franklin Career Coordinator said, "We will ensure work experience arrangements do not unfavorably impact current employees and do not impair existing contracts for services."
The youth will be working for local governmental agencies as well as private employers. Private employers must be from one of the four regionally identified targeted industries: agriculture, fishing and hunting; construction; healthcare and social assistance; and manufacturing.
"We will be contacting our local employers from the targeted industries who have registered on the Louisiana Workforce Commission's website to see how many summer youth they will be willing to place," McCarty said. "If a business from one of the targeted industries is interested in hosting a work experience position, please contact your local Career Solutions Center." The Center in Franklin Parish is located at 3290 Front Street, Winnsboro. (318-435-5687).
Youth ages 16 through 24 can qualify for the limited number of summer jobs. The program pays $7.25 an hour for a 32-hour workweek. Applications are available at the local Career Solutions Center beginning April 20 and must be returned by close of business (4:30) on May 15, 2009. The jobs will last eight weeks, from June 8 to July 31, 2009. Employers also have the opportunity to interview their prospective summer employees before "hiring" them.
Summer supervisors will be needed to help with the significant task of operating the Summer Youth Employment Opportunity program. These applications will be available at the local Career Solutions Center and at www.LAWORKS.net beginning on April 27, 2009. Supervisor positions are limited.
NLWC staff will develop strategies to engage the youth through work experiences and other appropriate activities beyond the summer months, including training opportunities and reconnecting to academic opportunities through multiple education pathways. Employers are encouraged to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) as an incentive to hire older and out-of-school youth transitioning to the workplace following this work experience program. The Recovery Act expands the WOTC to include disconnected youth ages 16-24 that are not regularly attending school, not readily employed, and lacking basic skills.
NLWC's funding is provided through the Workforce Investment Board SDA-83, Inc. The local WIB is responsible for ensuring that the local youth program provides summer employment opportunities to youth, along with all other WIA program activities.