Recognizing Summer Youth Workers

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Georgetown: On Wednesday, July 27, First State Community Action Agency recognized forty-five teen workers for their participation and achievements in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). These Sussex County teens, ranging between ages 14-18, were afforded the opportunity to gain job training, employment experience, and income through funding provided by the Delaware Department of Labor. The youth gained hands-on job training skills from eighteen partnering organizations—schools, libraries, nonprofit agencies, etc—which served as work sites. They were employed for seven weeks (or 210 hours) at these partner sites each earning $8.25 per hour. The young workers also took part in the Professional Development Day and engaged in skill-building workshops on resume writing, mock interview skills, online banking and money management, leadership, college and career planning. During the event, Executive Director Bernice Edwards and Program Manager Sandy Hagans spoke briefly about the benefits of the program on the youth and their families. Edwards said the jobs offered provide additional income to low-income families, taking the burden off of parents and guardian. “Youth are able to help with expenses such as buying their own school clothes, supplies, or beauty items,” she said.

Hagans spoke about the unique components of the program, the professional development trainers and numerous host sites that help train young workers on everything from how to dress, how to write a resume and conduct an impressive job interview, how to deal with workplace conflict and more. Hagans said they’ve experienced a number of challenges, but all in all, have seen much growth and maturity in the young students. “We don’t just train them for a job, we prepare them for success in everyday life.” Monica Shockley, a youth worker at Telemon Corporation gave reflections on her experience working with infants and children. “I learned that each child is different, with their own unique personalities…” She reflects on how her experience helped her discover her desire to work with children. “I never worked with children before….but I know now that I would like to continue working with the future.”

Olivia Nichols, recounts her experience with the Town of Georgetown in a very positive way. “I really enjoyed my experience. I learned a lot about customer service, how to properly answer phone calls and how to deal with people who may not be having a really great day. Some people are very nice and then there are some who are very frustrated, and you have to learn how to help make them feel better….Some don’t speak the English Language, and I had to learn how to communicate with them (convey information to them) and not make them feel less than.”

Delaware Secretary of Labor, Patrice Gilliam-Johnson was the keynote speaker for the event. She spoke about the various job training programs the Department of Labor offers and of the rising unemployment issue that has surfaced in recent years. She urged young workers to gain the skills and training needed to fill in vacant positions of employment. “Think about it: In the State of Delaware, we have more jobs than we have qualified workers…..I congratulate you for having the boldness to be part of a program that will help you become the future talented, trained workforce this state needs.”

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