Picente, Assemblyman Brindisi, Sheriff Maciol Talk to Oneida County Youth on Work Readiness

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., joined by Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi as well as Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, stressed the theme of moving on to higher education and avoidance of substance abuse at the Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program’s annual Work Readiness Day held at the Utica campus of Mohawk Valley Community College.

About 225 youth are participating 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. For many youth, the SYEP represents their first work experience and their first paycheck.

Speakers included Picente, Maciol, Brindisi, Mohawk Valley Community College New Directions Director Morris Pearson and Oneida County Office of Workforce Development Director David Mathis. Representatives of MVCC were on hand to help youth develop connections to higher education and begin setting career goals, while representatives of Reality Check of Central New York and the Center for Family Life and Recovery provided information about substance abuse.

“To help young people make the most of this work experience, we are offering a day 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. There was a very clear message today: if you want a good future, the doors are open, but you need to get an education and stay away from activities that can end your career before it even begins. ”

Sheriff Maciol noted the potential that law enforcement offers youth who want a rewarding career that helps make their communities stronger. He also had a caution for the teen-agers about substance abuse. “Breaking the law is just not something a teen-ager can do and not face consequences,” he said. “When a mistake goes on your record, it can be the difference between being eligible for a career in law enforcement, or in any sector where a criminal record is not allowed due to the nature of the work. The county and the college are sending a message today that you all have a bright future. It’s up to you to work at it and avoid mistakes that can ruin all that.”

The message was echoed by Pearson, who helps MVCC serve adults who have had interactions with the justice system. “Life can be a dance, and you have to choose your partners. A good partner makes the dance easier. But a bad partner steps on your toes, causes you some pain, and makes you look bad. Life is just like that. The partners you choose, and the decisions you make at your age are going to change the rest of your life. School might tell you that you can always get another chance; work and life are not that way.”

Assemblyman Brindisi said: “Oneida County’s Summer Youth Employment Program is an outstanding example of a long-term partnership that is investing in our youth and providing opportunities. In our community, and in our society, you have the ability to become whatever you want to be, as long as you are willing to work hard enough. The youth who will be joining this program are taking a first step along their road to success. New York State believes it is crucial to provide youth with summer job opportunities. Research shows that youth who participate in summer jobs programs have higher success rates in terms of high school graduation and achieve higher incomes in the years to come. New York believes in our youth, and we are proud to work with local partners in investing in their future success.”

The Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program placed youth at a variety of worksites designed to help youth gain valuable work experience and contribute to projects that assist community and civic groups in their work. “We are all part of the community, and we need to work together,” Mathis said. “Giving back to the community is something we all can do; by working with our local agencies to help them operate programs for younger children, youth have learned about responsibility and how to help the community.”          

“The Summer Youth Employment Program provides vital work experience for teen-agers who would not have a job any other way,” Mathis added. “I believe strongly in using this program to provide young people with basic work lessons about teamwork, but also in using this to bolster academic skills. Thanks to the funding we received from the state and the support we received from the community, young people who would not otherwise have had employment this summer learned about the world of work.”

Oneida County provides youth with a list of 10 key things to learn. The list is reproduced below.

Things to Learn At Your Work Site This Summer

Learn to work in a group with people from diverse backgrounds.

Learn how to communicate without slang and make sure that whatever you write can be read by others — spell properly.

Learn how to solve problems and help others find solutions.

Learn that work relationships are different from personal ones — work is not about making friends, but getting a job done.

Learn that on the job, everyone makes mistakes, everyone accepts constructive criticism and everyone puts personal feelings second to the goal of the team and tries to get along.

Learn that everyone starts at the bottom, but not everyone stays there if they really want to work.

Learn the difference between school and work in terms of consequences for breaking rules, for what you wear, when you arrive, calling in sick, and texting / phoning on the job.

Learn what you can do, what you need to learn, and how to improve your skills.

Learn about adults; what they expect, how they view work, and how you can develop a positive work relationship with an adult.

Learn that this is a first step, and success requires a lot more learning.