Program Helps Tear Down Employment Barriers

Ventura Youth Employment Service is seeking applicants for a jobs program aimed at young adults facing barriers to employment. Funded by a federal grant, the Youth Direct Placement Program provides employment preparation workshops and career-oriented job placement to area adults ages 18 to 21.

To be eligible for the program, participants must meet federal income guidelines and have "barriers" to employment.

"There are a long list of barriers, such as if they are living on their own or if they are a pregnant or parenting teen," said project coordinator Summer Nicol. Other eligibility determinants include:

* If the person is more than a year below grade level for their age.

* If the person is an out-of-school youth--either a high school dropout or attending a continuation high school.

* If the person has any learning or physical disability.

"Basically the program is intended to help those that are at risk of falling through the cracks and not being successful," Nicol said. "We are here to help teach them how to get a job and how to keep a job so that they have as much chance of success as anybody else."

Before job placement, participants are required to complete 15 hours of classroom training, which includes skills such as how to dress for an interview, how to fill out an application, interviewing techniques and how to write a resume. The classroom instruction is followed by assessment testing.

"We do a lot of in-depth assessment testing to find out what really turns them on, what makes them feel good about themselves," Nicol said. "When we find out what it is that they seem to have a good feel for, that is the kind of employer we are going to seek."

Participants will be placed in permanent, career-oriented jobs that pay at least $6.25 an hour.

Employers, who are being sought to take part in the program, are entitled to a work opportunity tax credit.

"I need some caring employers--people who care about these kids who are at risk of slipping through the cracks, being a mentor to them and helping them be self-sufficient so that they are earning a decent living," Nicol said.

Thirty-five participants will be accepted into the program on a first-come first-served basis. The registration deadline is mid-September. Call 650-8681 for more information on how to register.

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