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Applications now available for summer job program

Date: 5/18/2011

May 18, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Applications for the YouthWorks summer job program are now available and Kathryn Kirby, the youth employment coordinator for the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County Inc. (REB), said state and federal funding for the program is slightly higher than last year's amount.

Last week, the Patrick Administration announced that $6 million — $4 million in state finds and $2 million from federal sources — would be divided among jobs programs across the state. Locally, the REB received $530,790 this year.

While Kirby said that amount is greater than the $518,000 received in 2010, the REB was allocated last year an additional amount to bring its total to $984,000. Kirby explained any additional funding is now in the hand of the state senate, but she doesn't believe there would more funding on last year's scale.

The REB is encouraging local employers to hire youth this summer, but Kirby acknowledged, "The outlook [for summer jobs] is still dismal."

She added that young people "have to be persistent in this job market."

The funding will go to underwrite the YouthWorks program, she explained. Eligible youth, ages 14 through 21, accepted into the program work about 25 hours a week at public, private and non-profit worksites for a six-week period. Kirby added the REB encourages participating employers to hire one youth paying with its own funds for every YouthWork employee they have.

The jobs include landscaping, counseling, human services, arts and communications positions.

Anticipation for this program from young people and parents has been great already and Kirby said, "My phone has been ringing off the hook."

The applications are available through June 3. For Springfield residents, the applications can be picked up at Massachusetts Career Development Institute Inc. 140 Wilbraham Ave.; in Holyoke, at New England Farm Workers' Council, 225 High St.; and in Chicopee, at Valley Opportunity Council, 106 Stonina Drive.

"These jobs help build essential workplace skills for thousands of the Commonwealth's youth," Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein, said. "In addition, as part of the governor's priority to end youth violence in the Commonwealth, this summer's YouthWorks program will ensure that a minimum of 15 percent of the participants reflect our most at-risk youth, such as those who have had involvement in gangs, or with the criminal justice system."

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