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Summer works program benefits over 70 youth

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By The Staff

SHEPERDSVILLE) ee" T.J. Bradley was one of more than 70 Bullitt County young adults who gained valuable work experience and job skills in SummerWorks 2009.

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“Working in IT (information technology) this summer has given me great insight in the field,” said Bradley, 18, a Jefferson Community and Technical College student. “Now I know that I’ll enjoy working in IT as my career. The job also allowed me to save money for college.”

Bradley worked for Bullitt County Adult Education rebuilding servers, updating computers and running cables at two adult education centers through SummerWorks2009, a KentuckianaWorks initiative funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the federal stimulus package.

“SummerWorks2009 helped jump start the region’s economy by pumping $1.4 million into the economy through valuable work opportunities for people who otherwise may not have earned a paycheck this summer,” said Michael Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks, Greater Louisville’s Workforce Investment Board.

“What’s more, young people also earned valuable work experience that will make them more marketable in the workforce,” he said, “and employers who may have not been able to hire summer workers had much needed help.”

The SummerWorks employment sites were diverse, including Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Shepherdsville City Hall and Bullitt County Adult Education.

“At Bernheim, SummerWorks was a combination of seasonal employment and internship. Our interns are always engaged in educational activities so they get an understanding of the business as a whole. Seasonal employment is about getting out there and getting dirty and doing things that need to happen,” said Dr. Mark Wourms, executive director, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. “By combining those two areas, we not only give these young people a chance to earn money but we’re also conveying a good work ethic and basic job skills, plus broadening their perspectives by exposing them to different areas of our business.

“We’ve really been happy with the SummerWorks program. We had a great group of young people ee" they worked hard, did what we wanted and were respectful. I think it was a very, very good program.”

In addition to employment, SummerWorks2009 participants received training in work readiness skills such as financial literacy, time management, functioning in a team environment, performing effective customer service, reporting to supervisory staff, understanding personal accountability and responsibility, and maintaining honesty and integrity.

Participants, employers and young adults alike, agree that the program provided a multi-faceted learning experience.

“The program pays the salaries of the young people and there is no cost for the city to participate,” said Shepherdsville Mayor Sherman Tinnell. “But the program is good not only for the city but for the participants involved. The main focus is to develop young people in the workplace, and this program does that.”

Janie Baumgardner, 16, was one of five SummerWorks participants who worked at City Hall providing clerical and maintenance assistance.

“I helped do filing and computer work,” she said. “I also took financial literacy, which was interesting. This is my first real job ee" I learned how to be accountable, plus I was able to save money for insurance and gas.”

“This has been a great experience,” said Adric Ridenour, 19, who worked at Bernheim. “I’ve learned how to be more sociable and to work well with others. It’s also taught me to pay attention to other people because you can learn a lot that way.”

"Our SummerWorks students have gained valuable skills in areas such as customer service, horticulture, and financial management that will be useful throughout their lives,” said Nick Low, academic coordinator, Bullitt County Adult Education.

SummerWorks2009 involved 521 young adults, 88 job sites and 71 employers in three counties ee" Bullitt, Jefferson and Shelby. Bullitt County Adult Education, one of the six contractors of the program, coordinated 116 job placements in Shelby and Bullitt Counties.

KentuckianaWorks is Greater Louisville’s workforce investment board and serves the seven-county region surrounding Louisville. KentuckianaWorks oversees the region’s system of KentuckianaWorks One-Stop Career Centers, where job seekers can find jobs and education and training opportunities and apply for unemployment insurance.

The One-Stops also help employers meet their workforce needs by linking them with qualified employees.

In addition, KentuckianaWorks publishes workforce-related research and data. For more information, call (502) 574-2500.