Picente Launches Public-Private Effort To Provide Summer Jobs for Youth

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., joined by representative of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce and School and Business Alliance today announced that Oneida County’s Office of Workforce Development will be offering a Summer Youth Employment Program in 2012. He called upon local employers and agencies to work with the county to provide challenging, work sites for Oneida County youth.

 “To help young people make the most of this work experience, we are offering supports to help them prepare for work, prepare for careers, and focus on the future,” Picente said. “This summer opens the door for youth to learn what work is all about, to learn some lessons about what employers will want, to learn what types of skills youth will need to achieve success, and to use this summer as a first step on the ladder of success. “

Picente was joined by local partners who urged employers, in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, to contact the Office of Workforce Development about serving as a summer work site.

Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Sam F. Berardino, III said: “Many employers tell me they want young people to know what it takes to succeed on the job, This program gives a young person that first exposure to work, so they can understand how basic skills and soft skills are so essential in the modern workplace. With the program covering the cost of the youth wages, this is an outstanding opportunity to help a young person get experience, and become a better worker.”

Rome Area Chamber of Commerce President William Guglielmo said: "A good summer job puts money in a teen's pocket, provides invaluable life experience and helps neighborhoods grow stronger. Businesses that employ young people create a talented workforce that resonates for decades to come. Our Summer Jobs program furthers our mission of job creation by giving businesses the resources to hire, train and foster growth in youths from underprivileged communities, creating a sense of pride for both workers and employers."

Speaking on behalf of the School and Business Alliance, Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES Superintendent Howard Mettelman said: “Our SABA program has enjoyed great success in placing young people for the summer at Faxton and St. Luke’s hospitals as well as offering technology-related programs in Waterville, Rome and Utica. Youth learn key skills on the job and end the summer with a sense of real accomplishment. The program is a tremendous investment in our region’s future.”

Oneida County Workforce Development Director David Mathis said that although youth are already assigned to important sites such as the Oneida County Public Market and Murnane Field – where they will take part in important community service projects -- the program needs work sites in all parts of the county. “Youth who qualify for this program are found in every community in Oneida County,” he said. “Transportation is always a barrier for teen-agers, so the more we can place our rural youth in work sites that are close to their homes, the more work opportunities we will have for those students.”

Based upon the existing funding level expected in the state budget, roughly 300 youth will participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program, in which income-eligible teen-agers will work with local employers, including health care and not-for-profit employers, to learn work skills. The exact number of hours youth will work will be determined after the state budget is adopted this spring. The program will begin July 5th. Pre-applications for work sites and youth are available on line at the Workforce Development page of the Oneida County Web Site, www.ocgov.net.

 Through an outstanding partnership with Mohawk Valley Community College, Summer Youth Employment Program staff from Workforce Development will be based at MVCC. All students participate in an annual Work Readiness Day even to sharpen career and employment skills.

“This is a time when our local not-for-profit agencies, local governments and other community-based partners have work that can be done this summer by youth who will be bringing a spirit of can-do energy to community service,” Picente said. “Oneida County’s Summer Youth Employment Program tries to help youth learn the lessons only work can provide and also give back to the community by helping community agencies complete projects or repairs that need to be done. We are hoping that in the coming weeks, we will hear from communities and organizations that want to partner with the Office of Workforce Development to provide challenging, rewarding, community renewal opportunities for our youth.”

Picente said partners with ideas for Community Renewal projects that could be undertaken by Summer Youth Employment Program workers should contact David Mathis, Director of Workforce Development. An Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program Work Site Request Form is available on the Workforce Development page of Oneida County’s Web site, www.ocgov.net. Community agencies who have questions or want more information can contact Mathis by e-mail at dmathis@ocgov.net or by writing him at: Oneida County Workforce Development, 209 Elizabeth St., Utica, NY 13501.

Picente said that the Summer Youth Employment Program is one piece of Oneida County’s commitment to developing the workforce of the future. “We focus in the summer on young people who are still in school, but we focus year-round on young people who may have struggled in school and are struggling for direction now. That’s a mission that never stops.”

Picente noted that Oneida County funds the Second Start program at Mohawk Valley Community Action. Through Second Start, young adults who have interacted with the justice system can get new opportunities, education and training. “This program has shown outstanding success, with a very important focus on Rome and western Oneida County,” Picente said. “Sometimes, young people make mistakes. When they do, Second Start is there.” Second Start can be contacted at: 765-2615.

Picente also noted that Oneida County is collaborating with the Workforce Investment Board to develop and implement training and placement projects under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Youth Works program, which includes Utica-based older youth in the statewide project. “The governor identified the needs of our youth as an important area for our state,” Picente said. “We are glad that he has included Utica in the target areas for the exciting initiative, and we believe that the coming weeks will have positive developments as we work with the Workforce Investment Board, the Governor’s Office and the New York State Department of Labor