Program targets teens, young adults


Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.

If you are between the ages of 14-21 and think you would benefit from a program that will provide individual assistance, training, educational assistance and paid and unpaid job opportunities, then you may want to consider the Workforce Investment Act Youth Program at FloridaWorks.

Facts

YOUTH PROGRAM

What: Workforce Investment Act, or WIA, Youth Program, a training and employment program for ages 14-21 at FloridaWorks.
When: Applications taken year-round.
Where: FloridaWorks, 4800 SW 13th St.
Information: Call 352-244-5921 or email ksimmonds@floridaworksonline.com.

Keira Simmonds, manager of the WIA youth program, said the federally funded program administered by the state of Florida through the local Workforce Board seeks to provide services to youth ages 14-21, including individualized career guidance and counseling, educational assistance and both paid and unpaid work experiences.

To participate, those interested must meet the age criteria, be a U.S. citizen or have permission to work in the U.S., and meet certain income requirements. In addition, participants must meet one or more of the other criteria:

— Be a school dropout.

— Be deficient in basic literacy skills.

— Be homeless, a runaway or a foster child.

— Be pregnant or a parent.

— Have a record with the criminal justice system.

— Need help to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment.

"The program is currently seeking to enroll youth who have dropped out of high school and are wanting to pursue their GED or high school diploma," said Stephanie Gocklin, director of communications at FloridaWorks.

Simmonds said enrollment is open and participants will get an individualized plan based on their needs and goals. "Everybody is at a different point," Simmonds said. "We meet them where they are."

To apply, the following will be needed:

— Birth certificate.

— Social Security card.

— Picture ID or driver's license.

— Proof of income for the last six months.

— Proof of government assistance, if any.

— Applications are taken from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday at FloridaWorks at 4800 SW 13th St.

Simmonds said services offered will include, but are not limited to, the following:

— Employability skills development, such as how to write a resume and have a successful interview.

— Tutoring.

— Study skills training.

— Dropout prevention strategies.

— Alternative secondary school options.

— Summer employment opportunities linked to academic and occupational training.

— Paid and unpaid work experiences, including internships and job shadowing.

— Occupational skills training.

— Leadership development.

— Support services.

— Mentoring/follow-up services.

— Comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Simmonds said both paid and unpaid internships are available year-round. Paid internships have a 100-hour limit, but unpaid internships don't have a time limit. She said support services could include assistance with city bus passes, uniforms, GED classes and the GED exam.

Participants also will have career development counselors, or "career developers," who will work with them to make sure they are aware of the resources available to them.

"It takes the youth's motivation and desire to improve and to capture opportunities and reach their goals," Simmonds said.

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