Westchester Summer Jobs Program: New Public/Private Partnership Makes Summer Employment Possible for Youth

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Seeking to replace federal and state funding for summer youth employment, the Westchester Summer Jobs Program will continue in 2010 as a new public/private partnership aimed at securing private sector job opportunities and work experience for 500 youth ages 18 to 21. A new website, http://www.WestchesterSummerJobs.com, was unveiled at a recent press conference and provides program information as well as a sign-up page for area businesses. The initiative is led by The Business Council of Westchester in partnership with Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, the Westchester/Putnam Workforce Investment Board (WPWIB), eleven youth agencies throughout the county, and others including the United Way of Westchester and Putnam.

Seeking to replace federal and state funding for summer youth employment, the Westchester Summer Jobs Program will continue in 2010 as a new public/private partnership aimed at securing private sector job opportunities and work experience for 500 youth ages 18 to 21. A new website, http://www.WestchesterSummerJobs.com, was unveiled at a recent press conference and provides program information as well as a sign-up page for area businesses. The initiative is led by The Business Council of Westchester in partnership with Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, the Westchester/Putnam Workforce Investment Board (WPWIB), eleven youth agencies throughout the county, and others including the United Way of Westchester and Putnam.

For the past 10 years, WPWIB has received government funding to support summer employment, including $1.6 million received in 2009 to subsidize training and programs for 932 economically eligible teens and young adults seeking the opportunity to learn, earn money, and take the first steps on the path to a career. Funding is likely to be cut for the summer of 2010. The Westchester Summer Jobs Program’s partnership with the private sector was established to help avert a potential youth employment crisis by pairing businesses seeking short-term summer help with prescreened youth eager to work.

“The summer youth employment program will provide an opportunity for businesses to not only have great workers, but will also give young people a sense of careers in Westchester businesses,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, President/CEO of The Business Council of Westchester. “This is a win-win investment in our future, with the greatest return of preparing our future workforce.”

Interested businesses are asked to fill out a short online job order form at http://www.WestchesterSummerJobs.com and commit to hire at least one young adult, 18 to 21 years old, for 6-8 weeks, and/or to make a donation to sponsor one or more 14- to 17-year-old economically eligible youth to participate in a 6-week employment enrichment program. A Business Council or youth agency staff member works with the business to match each job to a prescreened youth employee.

“I urge local businesses to consider hiring a young adult this summer,” said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Register on our new website, and we will match you with a person with the qualifications you are seeking. Your business will benefit, your community will benefit, and of course the new employee will benefit.”

Starting Monday, May 3, 2010, interested youth are encouraged to register for a screening and interview with their local youth agency by calling United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline. Youth agency staff members also serve as liaisons to employers and employees over the course of the placement.

“Our new public/private partnership is a prime example of how we can find solutions to some of our local challenges that result from the new economic realities, such as the reduction in government funding,” said Donnovan Beckford, Director, Westchester/Putnam Workforce Incentive Board. “We are looking at new ways of accomplishing as much, if not more, for our youth and businesses in this rapidly changing economic environment.”

“Last year C.W. Brown Inc. was thrilled to be involved in the Westchester/Putnam Summer Youth Employment Program and expose students to the construction industry,” said Maryann Martini, Human Resources & Facilities Manager for C.W. Brown. “We, as an organization, feel it is critical to our industry to let the youth of today have the advantage of knowing that there are many opportunities in the construction field. Steven Patino, the youth who was referred to us, proved to be a reliable, polite, and an extremely hard worker. He was liked in the organization and everyone who he worked with directly commented that he was a quick study and followed directions well. The experience of working with the Westchester/Putnam WIB was extremely successful and C.W. Brown looks forward to a long lasting relationship.”

In addition to providing satisfaction in supporting the start of a career, the Westchester Summer Jobs Program offers financial benefits to area businesses such as tax incentives and payroll savings through the new Federal HIRE Act. White Plains-based Concorde Staffing Group will also offer “at cost” payroll services to participating businesses.

Additional business and service partners in the Westchester Summer Jobs Program include the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester & Rockland Counties, the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Resource Group, Inc., The Volunteer Center of United Way, and Harquin Creative Group.

Participating youth agencies include the City of Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, City of Peekskill Youth Bureau, City of White Plains Youth Bureau, City of New Rochelle Youth Bureau, SER of Westchester (White Plains), Thomas H. Slater Community Center (White Plains), Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc. (Elmsford), Westhab Inc. (Yonkers), The Children's Village, Inc. (Yonkers), Greater Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church (Mount Vernon), Theodore D. Young Community Center (White Plains), and the Westchester County Youth Bureau.

Marlene Furtick, Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, says, “This is a wonderful project that will help us find jobs for our kids despite the challenges with the public finding. I like it and am glad to be a partner.”

A more comprehensive website is currently in development and will become the one-stop portal to connect job seekers of all skill levels to Westchester and Putnam employers. It will be launched on June 23, 2010. With a special focus on the hospitality, finance, healthcare, and green sectors, this new resource will encourage local businesses to register on the website, post jobs, and provide feedback on the specific workforce skill sets they seek.

For more information on the Westchester Summer Jobs Program, please contact Mark Kessler at (914) 948-2110 x312, by email at MKessler (at) WestchesterNY (dot) org, or visit http://www.WestchesterSummerJobs.com.

About The Business Council of Westchester
The county’s largest and most influential business membership organization, The Business Council of Westchester is committed to helping businesses market, learn, advocate and grow. In addition, The Business Council of Westchester is actively involved in reviewing federal, state and county legislation and regulations in order to assess the potential impact on the business community and to influence the outcomes through advocacy when the business community’s interests may be affected. It also acts as an information resource for the business community and government leaders at all levels.

About Westchester/Putnam Workforce Investment System
The Westchester/Putnam Workforce Investment System (WPWIS) is designed to provide high quality services to businesses and job seekers that will lead to the development of a first-rate workforce. WPWIS’s wide range of services are aimed at addressing the broadest needs of its customers. Each Center is equipped with modern, state of the art equipment and other resources that are available to businesses and job seekers. Businesses use the center to recruit, screen and interview candidates for openings in their respective companies and to gather relevant labor market information.

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