Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer young people in Hill, Liberty and Blaine counties, along with Fort Belknap and Rocky's Boy Indian reservations, are being afforded the opportunity to test-drive careers and gain experience for the workplace through Montana's Summer Youth Employment Program. The program for low-income, atrisk youth has been in Havre before but was discontinued by the federal government about seven years ago, said Darrel Hannum, employment and training director for Human Resource Development Council District IV. "It's great to see our stimulus dollars at work helping teach 21st Century job skills to those who face challenges and typically feel they have nowhere to turn," Commissioner of Montana's Department of Labor and Industry Keith Kelly said in a press release. "No one should fall through the cracks during these tough economic times, especially our young people," he continued. "It was a program that was very effective," Hannum said, adding that some of the participants without prior work experience used the program to build resumes. That work experience can help people find jobs in rural areas where "It's really difficult for kids to find jobs in those more rural counties, and there's just not a lot for them to be able to do that can pay them to do that," Hannum said. The 50 participants are working for Area businesses including engineering firms, physical therapy clinics, fitness centers, senior centers, public schools, Indian Health Services, tribal governments, county governments and Montana State University- Northern. The approximate $130,000 received from the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, pays wages to the youngsters, along with Worker Compensation and various fees. The businesses provide safe work spaces, training, supervision and, ultimately, work skills, Hannum said. What skills the participants learn between now and September vary by age and placement, Hannum said. The younger participants from 14 to 17 learn basic work skills such as how to show up on time, dress appropriately and talk with a supervisor, he said. The older workers learn skills they might not get from jobs unrelated to a field they're interested in, he said. "Some of the older youth that we have are going to come out with, we hope, some real marketable skills in occupuations they've chosen that they're interested in," Hannum said. "They get an idea of real-world work skills that they're going to need for those chosen positions," he added, or find out that they might be more interested in another field. Hannum said he hopes the participants get some life lessons out of the summer: money management and responsibility. "And I think the main thing is is that they get an idea of what it's like in the real world," he said. "We will continue to take applications," Hannum said even though, "We have placed most of the spots that we have available." There is a waiting list and, if more money is secured for next summer, those applicants will be considered, he added. For more information, call HRDC at 265-6743 and ask to speak with someone in the employment and training department to set up a time to fill out an application.