Supported by North Florida Workforce Program staff, over 100 youth (ages 16–21) from Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor Counties are busy at work this summer, earning above minimum wage for jobs to which they applied and interviewed. “Our program’s name, iWork3, indicates the third year that area youth have been engaged in life and work skills training,” said iWork3 Coordinator, Breanda Taylor. “This temporary work will improve their lives and increase their opportunities for securing self-sustaining employment, including networking with local employers who will be valuable employment references in years to come.”
According to iWork3 Assistant, Allesandra Camejo, “Prior to starting their jobs, youth participants completed Work Readiness Week, and continue their employability training through bi-weekly Life Skills Workshops where they learn skills that may be applied at their worksites. Also, youth were taught how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and completed training activities to earn their CPR (Infant, Child and Adult) and OSHA/MSHA credentials – common requirements for many local employers in our region.”
Besides having the opportunity to acquire nationally-recognized work credentials, these young workers were also introduced to Florida Ready to Work credentialing program. Florida Ready to Work is part of a nationwide Career Readiness Credentialing network. Through this program, jobseekers review and increase their basic skills and are then assessed to determine their skill level, earning a bronze, silver, or gold credential. The credential will be signed by Governor Rick Scott. Youth who diligently access this Internet-based program for at least one hour each week during the summer are given the opportunity to test for their Ready to Work credential and earn a $100 incentive when they pass.
Some of the many participating worksites for iWork3 from throughout the six-county region include: Doctors Memorial Hospital, City of Perry, Madison Clerk of Court, Madison Recreation Association, Jefferson County Property Appraiser, Jefferson County Parks and Recreation, Three Rivers Regional Library, Comprehensive Community Services, Suwannee Co. Sheriff’s Department, North Florida Printing, Hamilton County Economic Development Authority and Suwannee Valley Nursing Center.
Other worksites specifically from Madison County that participated in iWORK3 as a mentor are Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Central School, Madison Youth Initiative, Madison Public Library, Lake Park of Madison, NFCC and Tri-County Electric.
“Workforce: Solutions for North Florida’s Economy,” says the sign above the main Career Center located at 705 East Base Street in Madison. By the program’s end in mid-August, it is hoped that the young people served this summer through iWork3 will have discovered more about themselves and overcome the barriers facing them since enrolling in this innovative work readiness program. Another goal of the program is to put more young people in the talent pipeline from which area employers choose their future workforce.
iWork3 and other career and employment focused activities are made available to area youth and adults through national legislation the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) which replaced the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) in 1998. In such legislation, a year-round youth program was established to assist youth with facing barriers to employment and assisting them with opportunities to move towards self-sufficient (high skill/high wage) occupations available in our region. The year-round Youth Career Consultant is Sara Shepherd. More information can be found at www.NFWorkforce.org.
For next summer, any youth or prospective worksites may contact Breanda Taylor, Summer Youth Employment Program Coordinator (iWork4) at 850/973-WORK or 866/367-4758.
Services are also available for adult jobseekers and include but are not limited to job search, resume, and cover letter assistance and referrals to intensive and training services as needed to secure gainful employment. For more information on the Workforce Investment Act program, visit www.NFWorkforce.org or call the numbers listed above and ask to speak to a WIA Career Consultant.