The Idaho Department of Labor Workforce Training Center is very pleased with the mid-season results of the Summer Youth Employment Program supported by the Workforce Investment Act of 2009, which has been in place in Boundary County since May.
"This has been a huge, community-wide collaborative effort," said Summer MacDonald, Senior Workforce Consultant for the Idaho Department of Labor. "Things are going very well."
According to Summer, of the approximately 125 applicants who applied for the program, 30 young workers ages 15 to 24 years old were placed with public employers or non-profit agencies in order to gain necessary work experience and basic job skills. Summer indicated that the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) trainees submitted an application and went through a selection process that included meeting a specific set of criteria. In addition, they were required to attend a day-long training session before being placed in their work sites.
Earlier this year, the Department of Labor sent out invitations for public employers and non-profit agencies that would be willing to supervise young workers to apply to be a designated work site.
"We had great response from the work sites," said Summer. "We were looking for work sites that had supervisors who understood their role in training members of the future work force, specifically, supervisors who understood about training basic work skills."
The supervisors were also required to attend an orientation meeting.
The Summer Youth Work Experience provides an opportunity for youth to learn important skills in a work environment. These skills are punctuality, attendance, appearance, following instructions, completing tasks, showing initiative and building personal relationships.
Many work sites around the county are reaping the benefits of having "some extra help" from these young workers. The GROW! community garden, Boundary County School District maintenance department, Special Education summer school, the land fill, the museum, Second Chance Thrift Store, the Fair Board, Boundary County Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, Bonners Ferry City Parks and Recreation and the hospital are all providing valuable experience for the young workers.
Since the Summer Youth Employment Program is nearing its mid-point, Janice Pannell, Workforce Consultant, has been holding mid-point interviews with the young workers. According to the youth, the job-related skills they have learned, particularly in relation to interpersonal interactions with co-workers and supervisors, have been the most valuable to them.
"We've definitely had some learning opportunities," related Summer. "The nice thing is that when there have been challenges, the young workers and the supervisors can come to us at the Department of Labor and we can all work through it. We are getting amazing reports from the supervisors."
Although the Summer Youth Employment Program will only be funded for the current summer, for the youth who have been involved in holding down perhaps their first "real job," the experience has been invaluable.
"We realize that this is taxpayer dollars," emphasized Summer. "The Department of Labor, the kids, the supervisors and the work sites are using the funding to the best of our ability to help train the future work force. It has been a win-win for everyone. Everyone is working on limited budgets, so if they have the opportunity to get some extra help, then that's great. The supervisors have been the backbone of the program. We're so lucky."