• 66°

Summer jobs program will aid poor youth

Young people of lesser means will have the opportunity to earnsome cash without having to compete for the same recurring seasonaljobs around Brookhaven this summer thanks to a state program thatwill bring 91 short-term jobs to Lincoln County.

WIN Job Center Director David Holland said the MississippiDepartment of Employment Security is bringing back theonce-successful Summer Work Experience Program for Youth, whichwill provide 91 minimum wage jobs over an eight-week period inLincoln County for economically disadvantaged youth.

Holland said the young workers would work on public sector orprivate non-profit worksites from June 1 to July 31, compiling 32hours per week at $7.25 per hour. They will be provided withworkman’s compensation and supervised by two overseers per site, hesaid.

To qualify for the program, Holland said a young person must bebetween the ages of 16-24, come from an economically disadvantagedbackground and face another barrier such as being deficient inliteracy, a foster child, parent or pregnant mother or a one-timeoffender. The program is designed to offer jobs to those who wouldhave the hardest time securing one on their own, he said.

“Summer jobs are hard to come by for our young people,” Hollandsaid. “This program will provide two months of work experience theycan put on their resume and give them two months’ wages they mightnot have had this summer.”

Holland said 55 slots would be reserved for in-school youth,while the remaining 36 will be for out-of-school youth who are notin school and have no plans of returning. Even within disadvantagedgroups, the 91 positions will be awarded based on need, hesaid.

“There may be more people who would fit that category than wemight think at this time, with the way the economy is going andparents being out of work,” Holland predicted.

Holland said public employers will be allowed to use the youngworkers’ services at no charge, unless those workers exceed 32hours per week. They cannot exceed 40 hours per week, he said.

The program is not ready to begin processing applications yet,Holland said, but soon a pre-application packet will be madeavailable at all local high schools for potential workers to fillout. Also, an MDES coordinator will begin gathering information onpotential public work sites from county and city governments,school boards and other public bodies.

Even though applications are not being accepted yet, Hollandsaid interested youth can place themselves on file with the WIN JobCenter by calling 601-833-3511. He said announcements would be madethrough local media when applications become available.

“This is kind of a win-win situation,” Holland said. “A youngperson has a job, gets some work experience and the sites have freehelp for two months. Putting that many people to work in SouthwestMississippi has got to be a good thing.”

The Summer Work Experience Program for Youth was made possiblethis year by a $3 million appropriation from the American Recoveryand Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program will create 1,084 jobsfor young people in eight Southwest Mississippi counties, whichtake up $846,212 of the appropriation.