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Labor Programs Keep Youth in School and Lead to Job Success

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | 04:19am


NASHVILLE – More than 6,000 Tennessee young people with employability challenges are taking part in activities that enhance their education and employment opportunities as part of the federally funded Youth Employment Program, Labor & Workforce Development Acting Commissioner Burns Phillips said today. The program provides services to targeted youth that will prepare them to succeed in the workplace and the community.

The Youth Employment Program under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 is open to low-income young people aged 14 to 21 who have additional employment barriers such as deficiency in basic literacy skills, homelessness, lack of a high school diploma, and one or more disabilities.

QuaDaisha Lowery, who lives in Columbia, was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and entered the Jobs for Tennessee Graduates program with low expectations. “I had no confidence in myself. I had set low goals, and attending college was not an option for me.” The Jobs for Tennessee Graduates program, including special tutoring and support services, gave QuaDaisha a more positive outlook for her future. “I learned leadership skills and responsibility and how to work with others.”

Through the Jobs for Tennessee Graduates program, QuaDaisha was chosen to attend a leadership conference in Washington involving activities that led to her hopes for eventual acceptance at Gallaudet University. The Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA 10) along with the state Department of Education contracts with the school system to offer Jobs for Tennessee Graduates to program participants. QuaDaisha is also working this summer through the LWIA 10 Youth Program.

The goal of the Youth Program is to provide longer-term services that will lead to postsecondary education, training, or employment. Local workforce areas offer specific services that will lead to those outcomes, based on the assessment of each individual at the time of program enrollment.

In the program year 2011-12 the program served 7,788 youth participants. Tennessee exceeded its negotiated common measures for youth performance as follows.

Many of the young people in the program have basic needs and issues. The Youth Program not only provides education and training opportunities to avoid school dropout, but also essential support services critical to the participants’ achieving success. The unemployment rate for the population aged 16 to 24 in Tennessee is 21.3 percent, more than twice the rate for the total population, according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Services available are unique to each local area and community.  In addition, WIA Youth programs are eligibility-based and require individuals to meet specific criteria in order to participate.  For more information about services and eligibility, contact the Department of Labor Workforce Services Division at (615) 741-1031 or (800) 255-5872.


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