CORPUS CHRISTI —
Even the Coastal Bend’s gradually declining unemployment rate doesn’t spell success for everyone.
Some groups may be affected more than others, and the state and federal government target some of those priority populations with more focused employment resources.
There is a strong emphasis on foster youths: Young adults caught in the transition from public education to the workforce without the family or other social backups to encourage them.
Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend is targeting those of the more than 2,600 foster youths across South Texas who are or will soon age out of the foster care system.
The Rise Up Career Ready Youth Employment Initiative will introduce up to 60 eligible young adults between ages 17 and 21 to the working world, said Amy Villarreal, contract manager with Workforce Solutions.
The target is to fill about 60 percent of the openings with young adults who are coming from the foster system or disabled.
Due to their circumstances, these young adults may not be aware of opportunities or how to begin job searches, she said.
“These kids are out there, and there are a lot of problems and a lot of issues,” Villarreal said. “They are competing for jobs with full grown adults at every opportunity.”
The summer gig places young people in safe, entry-level, supervised positions with area employers for eight weeks and get monitoring and career counseling from Workforce Solutions.
Workforce Solutions covers the workers’ $1,800 salary, making it free for employers to participate.
They also have a chance to learn life-important skills of financial literacy through a partnership with International Bank of Commerce.
Program workers who choose to can set up checking and savings accounts with IBC and take financial literacy courses, bank vice president Rosaura De Los Santos said.
The goal is to lower some of the initial intimidation young workers might feel in dealing with banks, and learning money management. IBC has done similar financial education programs with thousands of students in schools across Texas and Oklahoma.
“It’s a natural fit for us to become involved in trying to fill the financial education gap,” De Los Santos said.
Program workers also will take part in the organization’s Career Ready seminar, spokeswoman Monika De La Garza said.
The seminar boosts “soft skills” such as learning the importance of being punctual and appropriately dressed, and having the confidence to face on-the-job situations, De La Garza said.
The workers will get continuing education credits through Del Mar College for completing the seminar.
AFTER FOSTER CARE
Studies have shown young adults who age out of foster care are less likely to be employed and more likely to earn lower wages, even when compared to other low-income young adults.
Recent research in California, Nevada and North Carolina concluded between 22 and 33 percent were not in the job market by age 24. Only 16 to 25 percent were consistently in the job market.
Source: Chapin Hall, University of Chicago
IF YOU APPLY
What: Rise Up Career Ready Youth Employment Initiative
Where: Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend
Who: Job seekers aged 17-21 who are aging out of foster care. The program also needs employers to volunteer to accept workers.
Contact: For more information, call Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend at 361-882-7491 or 1-888-860-5627 or send an email to email@example.com.