CAA offers Opportunity Youth Work Program

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

For people between the ages of 16 to 24, finding that first job or a career can be a difficult and elusive task.

The Harlan County Community Action Agency (CAA) has partnered with organizations including the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), the Kentucky Career Center and Prosper Appalachia to offer an Opportunity Youth Work Ready Program in Harlan to assist those youth looking for employment opportunities.

There will be an event offering an opportunity to sign up for the program on Wednesday afternoon at the Harlan County Extension Office Depot.

Jill Blevins, Workforce Services Director at Harlan County CAA, gave a rundown on the Opportunity Youth Work Ready program.

There are two versions of the program, one for in school youth and another for those who are no longer in school, Blevins explained.

“We have a youth program for in school youth, those that are 16 to 21 years old,” Blevins said. “They can be in high school – if they’re in high school they con work up to 10 hours a week while they’re in school – during school breaks they can work 40 hours.”

Blevins explained there are criteria for program participation. Participants must meet at least one of these criteria, which include a history with the criminal justice system, no high school diploma, pregnancy or being a single parent, aging out of foster care, homelessness or having a disability. The criteria are similar for both the in school and out of school programs.    

Once eligibility is determined, then the participant may begin the program.

“We try to find an employer for them that is along the lines of what they may wish to have a career in,” Blevins said. “They make $10 an hour.”

Blevins said participants are allowed to work 480 hours during the duration of the program.

The out of school Opportunity Youth program is for youth up to the age of 24 who are not in school. The eligibility requirements for the out of school program mirror the in-school program with the exceptions participants must be between the ages of 18 and 24 and cannot be enrolled in school, Blevins said.

“They get training in work ethics, and so many don’t have that,” Blevins said. “We help them with resume writing and interview skills as well.”

Those interested in participating should call the Kentucky Career Center Jobsite at Harlan County CAA at 606-573-5335, ext.233, 236, 237 or 241.

The Wednesday event at the Harlan Depot is an opportunity to sign up for the program.

“They should bring a driver’s license or I.D., a social security card or birth certificate,” Blevins said. “If they’re under 18, their parents have to sign them up. If they’re interested, they can come and enroll on that day.”

Blevins added this is the first in school Opportunity Youth Work Ready program the CAA has offered in the last several years.

The Opportunity Youth Work Ready Event is set for Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Harlan County Extension Office Depot located at 519 Main Street in Harlan.