By G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – The Regional Employment Board has a new goal of placing 1,000 teens from Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee and Westfield into summer jobs this year.
Last year, the REB program placed 600 state-funded positions out of 4,000 applicants.
Cleveland Burton, who acted as the emcee for the announcement event at the Chicopee Public Library on May 2, said the mantra for this year’s effort is “Hire Youth. Be a worksite. Donate money.”
REB president and CEO Director David Cruise said the summer jobs program helps prepare the in-coming workforce, is preparation for college and will help make city streets safer.
According to statistics in the study “Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects,” in 2012, “as few as 27 percent of working age teens in Massachusetts were employed, as compared with 54 percent in 1999.”
The study noted that during this time the jobs traditionally filled by teens were taken by workers aged 55 and older. The study also found “that while teens performed as well as adults hired in these occupation in terms of math, reading and technology skills, teens did not know how to work and were not schooled in how to apply for a job.”
For Yashera Diaz-Roperto, a student at Holyoke Community College, participating in the program was her entryway into a career in daycare.
“Summer Youth program has benefitted me in many ways,” she said. Her experience in the program has led her to being a substitute teacher at a local daycare center.
Spiros Hatiras, the president of Holyoke Medical Center (HMC), said this is the first year the HMC is participating in the program and has committed to hiring seven teens. He said he hopes to double that number next year.
Participating businesses are asked to offer teens a six-week job of 20 hours a week at minimum wage. Youth in the program will receive 15 hours of workplace readiness skills and work place safety and sexual harassment training.
In Chicopee, applications are available now with a deadline date of May 19. Applications are available at the Valley Opportunity Council 106 Sonia Drive.
In Holyoke, applications are available now with a deadline date of May 23. Applications are available at Career Point Career Center, 850 High St.
In Westfield, applications are available now with a deadline date of May 23. Applications are available at Westfield High School, 177 Montgomery Rd. and at Westfield Vocational Technical High School, 33 Smith Ave.
In Springfield, applications are available now with aa deadline date of May 20. Applications are available at the New England Farmworkers Council 1628 Main St., Springfield as well as the Dunbar YMCA, 33 Oak St., Springfield as well as state Rep. Benjamin Swan’s office at 815 State St. Springfield.