By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – When Craig, now 22, was released from the House of Correction two years ago, he was without direction and hope. In June, he will graduate from high school, a member of the National Honor Society, and will continue his education at a local college, all because he was approached and took advantage of a program offered by Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce, conducted by the Young Adult Employment initiative.
In 2008, Kate-Lyn graduated from an Alternative High School and discovered she was pregnant.
“I was feeling slightly desperate and scared about my future because I was unable to find a job,” she said. “I quickly came to understand from a career specialist at Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce that with my investment in myself and some help, I would be able to gain the skills to be successful – through work readiness workshops, internships that they offer and further education.”
It wasn's easy, but the single mom said she found childcare, went back to school, has a certificate in medical coding and is enrolled in an associate's degree program. Kate-Lynn is having trouble finding a job with long-term sustainability, but she is acquiring all the needed work skills to be successful.
These are two of the many young adults, ages 16 to 24, who are finding help building a future, who shared their stories at a summit meeting held March 16, titled, “The Impact to our Future Workforce, Community and Employers.” Speakers, all experts in the field, remarked about the latest trends and statistics in youth employment, how these trends affect employers and how it impacts communities in general.
The message from the Young Adult Initiative Board on the Youth Employment Crisis emphasized that youth employment is at an all-time low. Young people are facing many challenges and older workers, college graduates and immigrants are filling entry-level jobs. Many youths, particularly from low-income families and minority groups have been especially hard hit. There are positive solutions, but to turn the situation around it is important to understand the depth and breadth of the issues.
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant, who spoke at the summit, said he is working with the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce on a municipal summer work program that will add summer jobs for young adults, which he will announce soon. He said he will also urge new programs for them in the local private sector. The Career Center in the Walker Building is available for Marlborough and Hudson youths needing assistance, who are in or out of school. At the center, they will find an educational pathway that meets their needs – to re-enter high school, obtain a GED or alternative high school diploma, find a post-secondary education program that enables them to complete high school and technical certification simultaneously.
Summit speakers included: Kelley French, director of the Young Adult Employment Initiative; state Sen. Karen E. Spilka, assistant majority whip; Steven A. Tolman, president of the Mass. AFL-CIO, and Gerard T. Leone Jr., Middlesex district attorney.