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March 12, 2012 / Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce

Business Leaders Address Youth Unemployment at Chamber Breakfast

Business Leaders Address Youth Unemployment

A crowd of 75 Business Leaders listen to the Summer Youth Employer presentation provided by Capital Workforce Partners and the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce at the YMCA this past Thursday.
The New Britain Herald
STAFF REPORT

NEW BRITAIN — “Not just a crisis — a catastrophe,” is how a top labor official described today’s employment environment for young people at breakfast for employers Thursday.

This is the worst youth employment situation since records have been kept, said Tom Phillips, chief executive officer of Capital Workforce Partners, the umbrella organization covering workforce development throughout the state. 

The city of New Britain, along with the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, hosted 75 business and community leaders at the YMCA to extol the benefits of hiring interns for the summer — and beyond.

Young workers are  unable to get the experience they need for the jobs  the economy demands,  Phillips said, and the summer youth employment program supported by the state and local businesses is losing funding – and the ability to serve all the students that need it. The summer program — which offered internships at over 100 local companies in July and August last year — aims to provide this experience.

The program is looking for a few good companies to build tomorrow’s workforce, by not only opening up subsidized positions, but also by asking employers to pay qualified student interns themselves, with a challenge to offer 30 unsubsidized jobs this summer. “It’s simple — today’s youth are tomorrow’s jobs,” added Bill Millerick, president of the chamber.

The program allows “people to learn important skills they use for a lifetime,” said Mayor Tim O’Brien.

But budget cuts are taking their toll.  Over 400 students that applied and were qualified for the subsidized work program were turned away last year in New Britain due to lack of funding,  with 5,700 losing out statewide, due to state budget cuts.

“We need to reach out to include more young people,” O’Brien said. He vowed to press state legislators to restore funding. A public hearing later this month with focus on additional funding from the current $3.5 million level provided by the state.

The need is certainly there, according Ron Jakubowski, acting superintendent of schools and a speaker at the event.

“At New Britain High School, we have a lot of hungry kids. And it’s not food I’m talking about. They are hungry to move out of poverty.”

Jakubowski noted that he had been a participant in a similar program when he was a student, running a mover  at Walnut Hill Park.  “Who would have thought about moving from grass cutting to the superintendent’s office?”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you business can offer internships to youth this summer,  contact Gerry Berthiaume, employer engagement specialist, at Capital Workforce Partners, 860-229-1665 ext. 213, or email gberthiaume@capitalworkforce.org. Student workers receive work skills training and are covered by insurance through the program.

Supporters of additional funding for the program will have an opportunity to speak before state legislators at a hearing later this month.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

 www.CareerCompetencies.org sponsored by Capital Workforce Partners, is a resource  for service providers and educators, students and employers. It offers a comprehensive learning program to individuals looking to gain the core competencies needed for a successful career.

THE BASICS

Needed career competency skills, as reported by companies in a survey of state employers by Capital Workforce Partners:

•    Customer service

•    Computer literacy

•    Problem solving and decision making

•    Interpersonal skills

•    Basic skills

•    Personal qualities

•    Job-seeking skills

•    Financial literacy

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