Youth jobs program could be expanded

First Posted: 4/26/2009

More jobs could be made available to Surry youths this summer in the wake of about 300 people applying for the 150 positions initially designated for the county.
Im in the process of trying to get more slots for Surry County, Polly Long, local coordinator of the Summer Youth Employment Program, said Sunday of the jobs being provided by federal stimulus funds.
The effort, first announced in March, is targeting economically disadvantaged persons in Surry ages 16 to 24 for minimum-wage jobs with a wide variety of local businesses and other employers.
Those who are 16 to 18 years old will work for 20 hours per week for eight weeks, while persons in the 19-to-24 age group will put in 20 hours each week for a six-month period. The program can be extended another six months for members of the latter group who are enrolled in an educational program such as GED.
Hundreds of local residents applied for the jobs by an April 17 deadline.
Even after unqualified applicants were weeded out of the pool of job-seekers, some 285 to 300 applicants remained, according to Long. That is an amazing number, the coordinator said.
Being approved for extra job slots would enable more of those youths to be hired when the program begins on June 15.
Long believes the individuals who applied reflect the segment that the program is meant to serve, the economically disadvantaged.
She said the various schools and agencies in the county that accepted applications did a good job of making sure job seekers supplied required documentation such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Not submitting such items automatically eliminated applicants from consideration.
Its phenomenal, because almost all the ones who applied have been accepted, Long said.
In addition to the large response from youths, the coordinator has been impressed by the variety of businesses wanting to participate. These include dental offices, vineyards, retailers, car dealerships and other commercial entities in addition to non-profit operations.
Though some of the employers are motivated by the fact the youths will be paid by the government, others are taking a long-range view of their involvement. So many of these businesses are doing it because they want to train these kids, Long said.
She added that the ultimate benefits will far exceed the financial aspects by providing valuable work experience to young people while also allowing career opportunities for them to remain in the county.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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