| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – For many teenagers, the summer break is less about having a vacation and more about the opportunity to develop works skills and the annual Summer Jobs Campaign from the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (REB) is designed to help teens reach that goal.
This year’s effort was kicked off with a formal announcement at Springfield City Hall and Kathryn Kirby, the REB’s manager of Youth Employment and Workforce Program told Reminder Publications the goal was to involve 900 area youth in the program. She said the REB is asking employers to considering doing one of three actions: become a summer job worksite; hire a young person for the summer; or donate funds to the REB to help underwrite a job.
Kirby said the program is “a perfect opportunity for career explorations.”
Youth employed through the YouthWorks summer jobs program will earn $10 per hour, work an average of 125 hours for six weeks, and will receive 15 hours of workplace readiness skills and workplace safety training. Kirby said the Commonwealth helps underwrite the program with $1.3 million, which can underwrite 535 jobs, but local businesses are needed to participate to truly make the program a success.
Kirby said the applications for youth to apply for positions in the program are now available. In Springfield, applications can be picked up and dropped off at The New England Farm Workers’ Council at 1628-1640 Main St.; in Holyoke, at CareerPoint Career Center at 850 High St.; in Chicopee at the Valley Opportunity Center 35 Mt. Carmel Ave. third floor; and in Westfield at Westfield High School, 177 Montgomery Road and Westfield Vocational Technical Academy, 33 Smith Ave.
According to Cleveland Burton, chair of the REB’s Hampden County Youth Council, “As summer rapidly approaches we are taking a proactive stance to address our current understated employment situation for our youth between the ages of 14-21. As thousands of youth will be in need of summer work, we are rallying together once again, to ensure that all the resources in Hampden County come together in a concerted effort to ensure the success of our youth for now and the future.”
Employers who are interested in hiring a youth, becoming a YouthWorks worksite or donating money to help pay the wages for a youth to work in a community betterment project should contact Kirby at 755-1359.