Program Helps Troubled Teens Find Work

Created: 06/11/2014 5:49 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- It's that time of year when high school students are out looking for summer jobs, and while the economy is recovering, many are still struggling.

But one local program looks to make the job hunt easier on those who have it hardest.

According to the most recent data, the unemployment rate for youth aged 16 to 19 sits at 19.2 percent.

And while that's better than last year, many still find themselves out of luck.

But now officials in Austin are working to expand a program that helps find jobs for those who may have challenges to employment.

"Things such as being a foster youth, or a runaway, homeless, to more severe things like being pregnant or parenting,” said Beth Goskesen, a youth career counselor at Workforce Development in Austin.

Goskesen leads the youth work experience program which places kids in jobs they might not otherwise have access to by partnering with local businesses.

"For example, I have a young man who's interested in cars and so we just recently had a company who does stuff with cars,” Goskesen said. “To place him with them was such a unique experience for him and hopefully something that can propel him forward.

The program not only places kids in jobs, but also helps them build their skills to prepare for their next job.

"For a lot of my youth, the whole stepping out into the workforce is kind of a new thing,” Goskesen said. “Anybody who comes through our doors, regardless of what program they're in, can get help with resume writing, cover letters, that sort of thing.”

Ten students are currently working through the program, with 15 more ready to start soon.

And Goskesen said it's all about helping kids get their foot in the door and set them on a path to a career.

"We can show them the value of work, the way it builds you up, and then doing something you enjoy," Goskesen said.

The program is funded by a state grant which pays the students' salaries, which means participating businesses get free labor in exchange for mentoring kids and teaching them important job skills.