Teenagers and young adults are getting the chance to pick up some work experience and a bit of spending money this summer and fall, through a new program run by Escambia County.
About 40 kids will make up the inaugural Youth Employment Program, which is set to kick off next month. County residents between the ages of 16-20, whose family household income is at or below 200 percent of the 2017 poverty level, are eligible to apply.
Tonya Gant oversees the program as the county’s Director of Neighborhood and Human Services. She says it’s also geared in part to help address the negativity surrounding the county’s younger population.
“We’re having some high dropout rates and things of that nature, you getting into trouble,” said Gant. “So we should perhaps try to promote something positive for them to be a part of.”
There are two, six-week cycles,June 5 until August 4, and from October 2 until December 1. The jobs are all within county government, for about 20 hours a week, and pay $8.10 per hour.
“Parks and Recreation; Public Safety, Human Resources,” Gant said. “And hopefully, we can send them where they desire to go. And if not, we will place them somewhere else.”
Before the workers set about with their jobs, Gant says they’ll undergo some job-readiness training on the basics.
“Being on time, the importance of being respectable, knowing how to communicate,” said Gant. “Not being on your phone, to be on social media, and the importance of social media. Even if you were not on the job, understand that anything you put on social media will stay there.”
During their time on the job, the young employees will be assigned a supervisor to monitor them and their performance. At the end of the six-week cycle, they’ll undergo what’s known in the workaday world as an “exit interview,” only they call it a “post-program debriefing,” about their work experience.
“What did you like? What didn’t you like? What happened that may have caused you not go to into that career field? What would you like to see changed?” said Gant. “And we’re also going to be getting in touch with some employers, to see if [they would] seriously consider hiring an individual.”
The initial step in applying for a job under the program, says Tonya Gant, is visiting www.myescambia.com and getting the necessary forms. More information is also available by calling 595-0457.