Students in workforce

Sandra Egizio , News Editor

The future of labor may depend on young people developing the right skills early on. But how these skills are gained is entirely up to the individual said Dede Woodward, curriculum director for career and technical education at Joliet Township High school District 204. The national unemployment rate for young adults ages 16 to 24 stood at 16.3% in July of last year but is now decreased to 14.3% according to the U.S Department of labor.

Although young adult unemployment rates are declining in the U.S, the efforts to train students with the skills needed to land a job are not reducing. At both Joliet Township’s West and Central campuses, students can choose to enroll into one of five career academies, each focusing on college and career preparation and hands on learning experiences. The School-to-apprenticeship program – a competitive apprenticeship offered to Will and Grundy counties through the Illinois State Board of Education’s Three Rivers Education to Employment System – “meets the needs of students who may not necessarily be on the college track and provides the opportunity for good paychecks shortly after graduation”, said Neal Kauffman, project coordinator for TREES. About 20 to 25 students from area high schools participate each year.

But what about students who graduate from high school undecided and do not have the financial earnings to go to college but want to? A new program called “My Future” is now being offered at Joliet Junior College for those students. Pat Fera, manager for The Workforce Investment Board of Will County that funds the program, said “This program is for youth who may have just completed high school or not had a successful high school experience. They’re just trying to figure out their next step, which can be pretty daunting”. According to JJC’s website, the program is for eligible low-income persons ages 17-21 who have earned a high school diploma or GED. Those who enroll in the program must choose to work in High demand jobs in Will County.