Carbon County may be the beneficiary of a new youth services pilot program the state of Utah and the Division of Workforce Services is proposing. On Wednesday morning, Director of Employer Support Initiatives Ben Hart from DWS spent time with Price City Council members, Boys and Girls Club administrators and several regional and state workforce service members to discuss the pilot project and how it could be beneficial to the region.
The project would be geared toward K-12 school age children and designed to work in conjunction with Carbon School District to provide targeted job skills, training and a mentorship program. Hart is looking to focus the efforts on a rural school district and chose Carbon County to be part of this effort.
Price mayor Joe Piccolo and city council members Wayne Clausing and Wayne Miller were on hand to learn about the program. Hart asked them what they think is needed in this area to meet the needs of employers with a skilled local workforce. The goal is to design a program that will help train local youth in well-paid careers, which are needed in Carbon County. This way, local youth can remain in the area and employers do not have to bring in workers to fill high paying, skilled jobs.
Mayor Piccolo sits on the Inter-Generational Poverty Advisory Committee for the state and looks at the grant as an opportunity to help break the poverty cycle. He is concerned that almost twice as many boys drop out of high school as girls. He hopes to find a pool of businesses and industries in the area that are willing to provide internship opportunities to students.
Piccolo also feels this process has to begin early and before most youth have even thought about a career path.
“This should be designed not to help them choose a career path, but give them a career experience,” he said.
Miller was able to share personal experiences in the discussion because of his work with foster care. He works with many boys who are only focused on getting out of the foster care program. He said that by refocusing their sights through hands-on experiences, he has seen lives changed. Miller thinks the youth services pilot project could build on that. He also wants to see a recreational component to the program as well.
Businesses like Sutherlands could be a strong partner in this project according to Clausing. He also drew on personal experience to see how mentoring can change the direction of a child that might not feel like they have a goal. He feels that a program that incorporates mentoring, education goals and some rewards or incentives for meeting goals could be positive for the area.
Hart said that this is still in the early stages. Workforce services associate director Shelly Ivie will spearhead the local project. She will organize a series of meetings with Carbon School District, area businesses and city leaders to find the direction for the project that is best fits the area.
Funding needs to be approved in the Utah state legislative session and the pilot project could move forward as soon as the 2014-15 school year.