HARTFORD — Starting Monday, nearly 200 young people will be part of the local workforce.
But like many job seekers, they first attended a “job fair” held at the Community Renewal Team (CRT) offices last week on July 8.
They interviewed with representatives from 15 local companies including Capital Ice Cream, Habitat for Humanity and Ebony Horsewomen among others. A total of 27 employers, including CRT, will be employing the youth.
Of the 183 students enrolled in the 2019 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYELP), a little more than 100 attended the job fair, said Jason Black, communications director for CRT. The others have already been placed in jobs and were not eligible to attend the job fair, he said.
For many of the young people, it is the first time they’ve held a formal job, Black said.
The purpose of the job fair was for students to meet with prospective employers and see if they might be a good fit for their place of employment, he said.
“It’s speed dating for job placement.”Jason Black, Communications Director, CRT
“It’s a greatway for the employer to find out what they are interested in doing, learning. It’s a great way to match up with one another, ” Black said.
The young job seekers must meet with at least two employers, but depending on their initiative, they can meet with as many as possible, Black said.
At the end of the half-day job fair, the young people were asked to pick their top places, and the employers were asked to do the same.
“We do the best we can to try to match them with their top picks,” he said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workforce participation for Hispanics ages 16-24 in July 2018 was 58 percent nationwide, an increase of 1.4 percentage points over the previous year.
The youth unemployment rate in Connecticut for ages 16-24 for all groups was 10.5 percent in 2016, according to governing.com.
In order to be considered for the SYELP, a young person had to submit an application between March and the end of May through Capital Workforce Partners, Black said.
“Applications get flagged to go to CRT or to other similar organizations,” he said.
A total of 1,400 young people will be placed through the program, Black said. CRT received nearly 500 applications, and out of those it was able to take nearly 200, he said.
The young people in the program will work 120 hours over five weeks in jobs that range from retail, service industry and office settings.
They are paid the minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. Funding for the program comes from a grant provided by Capital Workforce Partners, the City of Hartford, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the State of Connecticut.
“The employer doesn’t pay anything out of pocket,” Black said.“In some cases the employer has decided to keep the young person on (at the end of the five weeks) and then the cost goes to the employer.”
Communication is key to success
After the young person is placed, CRT has case managers who go out to the job sites to meet with the students and their supervisor at least twice a week, Black said.
The purpose is to make sure there are no issues, if there are issues, they work to resolve them and make sure everyone is happy at the end of the day, Black said.
During the job fair, Black spoke with one young woman who mentioned to him that she and her brother live with their single mom.
“She felt an obligation to help with expenses,” Black said.