San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board Places High Desert Youth In Summer Jobs

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

(Victor Valley )– Just about 80 High Desert young adults were placed in jobs this summer through a brand new program. The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board partnered with the Department of Behavioral Health to place young people that were either former foster youth or on probation in summer jobs with local employers. The grant paid the wages to County youth ages 18-25 years old and provided transportation assistance as well as work readiness training prior to starting their jobs.

“The reason for this type of a project is because the unemployment rate for this age group is at about 25% countywide. But for this population, it is up to 50-60% for the system involved youth. That’s why this project in particular was so important,” said Emily Petrus with the Workforce Investment Board.

“Out of those young people that completed the program we’re seeing about a 78% success rate,” Petrus said. “Either they were hired at the job sites, they got re-engaged in high school, or we got them enrolled in college, or they entered into our 2 year WIA program.”

Andy Tricinella, manager at Staples in Victorville, just hired one of the young men who completed the program. “It is a great program, because probably 80% of the kids from the program that I hire would not have had that opportunity had they not been able to prove themselves.”

Tricinella said that he favors programs similar to this because the employer has the opportunity to “try out” the potential employee to find out if they are the right fit or not for their business, at no risk to the employer. “If you are interested in developing people that might be your own someday, it is the greatest program in the world.”

Tricinella described his latest hire, Adolfo Soto who came through the new program, “He’s a good worker, he jumped right in, paid attention, and he is a good listener. He did everything we wanted. He’s very intelligent, he picks up things fast, and he was a find, let me tell you. He’ll be here a while.”

Petrus explained that the work readiness portion of the program was a huge part of its success.  The participants are taught how to behave on the job, including being punctual, being polite, knowing how to communicate and knowing how to take direction and listen.

“We are hoping that project with the Department of Behavioral Health is going to become a regular program,” Petrus said.  “And the department is looking at continuing because these young people were so successful in this program.”

The project concluded at the end of June but employers who are interested in partnering with the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board to offer future work experience may contact Emily Petrus at epetrus@wdd.sbcounty.gov.

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