Schenectady County

Youth job program likely to fill up fast

Schenectady County’s summer youth employment program begins today and organizers expect all 425 jobs

Schenectady County’s summer youth employment program begins today and organizers expect all 425 jobs to go quickly.

“There is just a huge demand. I will be surprised if we don’t fill the program up in one day,” said Jennifer Goldie, work force investment youth coordinator for the Schenectady County Job Training Agency. SJTA operates the program.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting from 2:30-5:30 p.m. today at SJTA’s fourth-floor office in Center City, State Street. Signups will continue until all slots are filled, Goldie said.

The employment program runs July 7 through Aug. 15 and is open to youths ages 14-20 throughout the county regardless of income, provided they are in school. Priority goes to youths from low-income families, county officials said.

Youths are placed in entry-level jobs with municipalities and businesses. More than 150 businesses are participating in addition to the county and the city, Goldie said. “We have job locations with CVS, the city and the county, in the parks, at the Holiday Inn, in landscaping and child care,” she said.

Approximately 65 percent of the jobs will go to youths 14-15, Goldie said. This age group typically cannot find jobs during the summer because employers consider them immature for work.

“They are too old for summer camps and too young for summer employment,” Goldie said. “But they want to earn money and they want work experience.”

For a majority of the youths, the program is their first experience in the work world, Goldie said. “We want to make it a positive experience where they are able to earn money and learn valuable employability skills. They are learning skills that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.”

Youths 16-18 will earn $7.15 per hour and work 30 hours per week. Youths 14-15 will earn $6.55 per hour, which is less than minimum wage, and will work 20 hours per week.

The county is providing round-trip van transportation Wednesday and Thursday to SJTA’s office from Schenectady High School, Central Park Middle School, Mont Pleasant Middle School and Oneida Middle School. Vans will leave each school at dismissal time.

The program has a budget of approximately $450,000. Funding comes from nine different sources, including Schenectady Weed and Seed, the city, Duanesburg and from the county’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Whether the county Legislature contributes funds, as it has in the past, is tentative, Goldie said. The county is facing a budget shortfall of at least $5 million going into 2009.

Last year’s program served 450 youths with a similar-size budget.

As part of a requirement for the program, youths are required to visit Schenectady County Community College once during the summer and attend workshops to receive training to improve their resume writing, banking and budgeting, financing, college exploration and other elements to prepare them for the work force.

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