Workforce Program Positions Young Adults to Succeed & Provides Palestine Employers with Local Talent

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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Workforce Solutions East Texas has an innovative workforce program that’s designed to help young adults learn the life and work skills they need to succeed long term before being placed in a job. The young adults who participate in the program must be between the ages of 16 and 24, and facing an obstacle such as lacking a high school diploma or being a young parent, and also facing economic hardships. Those who qualify, and are willing to put in the work, are presented with the opportunity to change the rest of their lives. 

Sound dramatic? It is. 

To truly understand the power of the program, it helps to look through the lens of a youth going through it. One such young lady had gotten into trouble and was ordered by a judge to participate. She had not graduated high school, had no work experience, no direction and was on a bad path. This experience has changed her life. While participating in the program she earned her GED, learned life and business skills, such as how to interview for a job and what employers expect once you have it. She worked hard, applied herself and through the program was able to get a job at an assisted living facility. Now, she is on the road to earning her CMA and dreams of becoming an RN. From courtroom to a steady job in the medical field - that’s the type of transformations that are coming out of Workforce Solutions East Texas. 

“These young adults go through our program and learn how to do basic things like make eye contact, answer questions, resolve disagreements and create a resume. We stay with them, coaching them and helping them along the way. After their initial class, I ask what they learned and the most common answer is, “I didn’t think I could do this and now I know that I can.” That boost of confidence is the first step in them improving their lives,” said Angelia Snow, Area Operations Manager/Program Advisor. 

workersDeveloping these skills, and the confidence that comes with them, is just the first step. Once they complete classes, they are placed with a local employer who then provides on-the-job training and coaching. For the first 300 hours, Workforce Solutions East Texas pays for their wages, taxes and workers compensation insurance. In return, employers receive an employee who is eager to learn, but doesn’t have work experience. The employer’s job is to coach and train, and to evaluate the employee every two weeks so the Workforce team can provide additional coaching as needed. The goal is to coach up these young adults into a skillset that will enable them to have a long-term career. 

Employers benefit as well. First, local employers are receiving an employee that they do not have to pay for. Even though their skills need developing, this is still a good opportunity for them to grow their staff. Then, when the 300 hours are up, they can choose to hire someone who has been with the company, is fully trained and understands the culture. Of course, employers are under no obligation to do so. In fact, if it is not the right fit during training, an employer or the employee may ask for an alternative arrangement. Even with this option in place, the majority of employers are choosing to hire these young adults long-term.

Workforce Program is Ramping Up in Palestine

This program has been in place in Anderson County for a few years and is picking up steam in Palestine. Around fifteen employers have signed up to participate. “We are getting things ramped up in Palestine. We are starting another class where participants will write a resume, learn how to interview, give an elevator speech to sell themselves, and gain basic communication and work skills,” said Ms. Snow.

Additional Training is Available 

Another benefit of this program is the ability to pay for additional workforce training. The East Texas Council of Governments sets a list of in-demand occupations. These include accounting, automotive, medical, computer services, childcare, engineers, construction trades, trucking, and more.

If a young adult wishes to receive training in one of these fields, they could qualify to have up to $9,000 in training costs paid for. As an example, CNA training could be paid for by the program. Sometimes young adults initiate the request, where other times it comes from the employer. For example, if a participating employer identifies that their trainee would benefit from a certification, they can recommend it to Workforce Solutions East Texas and start the process that way. When young adults receive training in in-demand careers, everyone benefits. 

Young Adults Are Encouraged to Participate

Young adults in Palestine and Anderson County are encouraged to visit Workforce Solutions East Texas in the Palestine Mall to learn more about this opportunity. As Ms. Snow said, “These kids come from circumstances they didn’t ask for but are working to overcome. I see the fire in their eyes and it is inspiring. Even if you have no experience or education - there is a future for you here.”

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