Capital Workforce Partners create opportunities
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Feb. 7, 2013
In 1989, 57 percent of teens had a job during the summer. By 2009, only 29 percent were employed. This troubling decline is bad news for businesses, as the decline in summer employment for youths means a decline in skills and experience by time they seek full-time work. At the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Breakfast hosted at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Feb. 7, members of Capital Workforce Partners showed Chamber members how they are working to get teens working.
Capital Workforce Partners is a learning program committed to helping young people gain employable skills and find exposure to the “world of work.” They provide training to youth which improves their “career competency.” Using www.careercompetencies.org, students learn computer and financial literacy skills, interpersonal and communication skills, customer service tips, and such job-seeking skills as résumé preparation and interviewing guidelines.
Mayor Leo Diana can attest to the benefit of working as a youth. “I remember when I was a kid, 13 years old, my brother Ray and I picked tobacco,” he said. Although it was a dirty job, they earned money – and confidence. He sees that children today don't have that opportunity, which is why the town must support Capital Workforce Partners. “We owe it to them,” he said. “Let's face it: they're our future.”
Interim Superintendent of Manchester Public Schools Dr. Richard Kisiel said he had many odd jobs in his youth. He was a waiter and a landscaper. He worked at a camp, a science museum and a chemical factory. “When I think about my career, every one of those experiences had an impact on what I do today,” he said. Each job provided him with unique skills. Working at a science museum, he overcame a fear of rats and snakes (he had to feed the boa constrictor). He also was inspired when he saw the reactions of children. That experience got him interested in the education field.
Erica Bromley, director of the Manchester Youth Service Bureau, places youths in intern positions through the Summer Youth Employment Program. Students in Manchester have been placed at many businesses and institutions in town, such as Manchester Community College, ECHN and Carter Chevrolet & Mazda of Manchester. Bromley has seen some wonderful successes result from the program.
Uniquewa Knowlin, a senior at Manchester High School, participated in the Summer Youth Employment program and flourished at her placement in Marshall's. The program equipped her with other valuable skills, including résumé-writing advice. “It doesn't end in summer; you take it with you,” she said.
Kyle Reyes, director of marketing at Carter Chevrolet & Mazda in Manchester, provided a testimonial of taking on an intern. While Reyes first expected the intern to be an inconvenience, his mind was soon changed.
Reyes recalled the time when one intern, Matt, approached him and formally requested a meeting to go over some concerns he had. “We sit down, and he says, 'Dude, your Facebook sucks!'” said Reyes. He and the interns did some research on social media, and revamped the dealership's profile. Soon, their website got the same treatment.
“I encourage you all to look at these future leaders of our country, and say, 'What would you do? How are you guys handling it?'” said Reyes. “They may not be consumers right now, or our employees, but they are our future consumers, and they are our future employees.”
Thomas Phillips, president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners, highlighted the need for local businesses to sign up to take on young talent in summer programs. “The great news is we served a couple thousand kids last year,” he said. “The bad news is we turned away more than that.”
“We have a situation in this country where youth unemployment is the highest it's ever been since after World War II,” Phillips said. “We might have a generation heading into the workforce without any work experience.”
For more information about Capital Workforce Partners and to learn more about hiring an intern, visit www.capitalworkforce.org.