In an effort Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwelll says, “will pay dividends for decades to come,” the Youth Employment Project 2017 has an ambitious goal of giving 500 Southcentral Kansas Youth a first job or work experience this summer.

It’s an effort Longwell says he’s passionate about, particularly when you look at some of the benefits gained by youth from having a summer job. Among many things, youth who participate in structured work experience:

• Gain instill new confidence, sense of responsibility and independence.

• Learn time management skills.

• Form good work habits, in addition to obtaining valuable work experiences, which are excellent for a resume.

Data indicates youth that participate in structured work experience opportunities have higher degree rates.

If the program is successful, it will help buck a trend of a steady decrease in the employment rate for 16-19 year olds. Their employment rate has dropped from an average of 50% in the 70s, 80s and 90s to just 28.5% in 2015. In the summer of 2015, 1.3 million teens were actively looking for summer work, but could not find jobs.

“These opportunities (summer jobs) don’t exist today unless we manufacture these opportunities,” said Mayor Longwell, during a press conference promoting the Youth Employment Program.

Workforce Alliance staff is actively recruiting not only youth to participate in the program, but employers to hire youth, non-profits and small businesses to accept summer youth employees on the basis of either full or partial subsidy of their wages, and donation of funds to cover the cost of the youth training program and/or to help cover the costs of a youth’s job placement.

How to participate students

Youth looking for a summer job should check out the youth employment project. Participation in the program begins with a daylong workshop in which participants gain an Essential Work Skills Certificate. The free workshops are offered at multiple dates and locations around the Southcentral region, and lunch is provided. To register, and find workshop dates and location, go to www.workforce-ks.com/yep.

The workshops teach young applicants many of the soft skills they need to get and be successful in a job. Skills covered include: customer service, employment planning, job fair etiquette, financial literacy and essential job skills.

Youth who complete the training program are eligible for job placement. Job fairs for certificate holders are set for May 26 and June 9 at the Wichita Workforce Center, 2021 N. Amidon.

In general, youth placed through the program will be paid $7.25 per hour and work 20 hours per week over an eight week period, however the timeframe and wages may be modified to match the needs of an employer.

How to participate employers

There are four options for employers who want to participate in YEP. In some cases, the wages for the work experience can be subsidized through the Workforce Alliance, but employers are strongly encouraged to consider paying the wages directly or through Workforce.

Typical cost per employee range from $2,000 to $2,500 for the 20 hour-per-week, eight week employment program.

Small businesses, non-profit or community-based organizations with multiple placements are asked to pay half of the wages for each placement. Similar organizations with just one placement can be considered to receive a fully subsidized placement, if funds are available.

If you’re interested in hiring/hosting a YEP participant this summer, contact: Thomas Hunsecker, (316) 771-6622, thunsecker@workforce-ks.com or Amanda Duncan, (316) 771-6661, amandaduncan@workforce-ks.com.

The YEP program is administered by the local area IV Workforce Alliance which covers Butler, Cowley, Harper, Kingman, Sedgwick and Sumner counties.

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