More than 500 youth work this summer in federal jobs program - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

More than 500 youth work this summer in federal jobs program

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS)- Last-minute federal funding put more than 500 young people to work across southeast Missouri this summer.

They benefited from paid internships through the Workforce Investment Board of Southeast Missouri.

Among the rows of antiques you'll find at Annie Laurie's on Broadway in Cape Girardeau, you may see a 15-year-old high school student getting a lesson in small business savvy.

"I like it because teaches me good management skills and time management and dealing with customers and keeping stuff on track," said Swaneisha Betts.

Betts' time and effort is being paid for by the Workforce Investment Board's Summer Jobs Program, a real boost for owner Laurie Everett.

"It's the best of both worlds. I get extra help and she gets experience and it really works out great for both of us," said Everett.

In its second year, the program got a bit of a late start thanks to last-minute funding, says Board President June O'Dell.

"About the middle of June, we received 1.5 million dollars," said O'Dell. "And we'd already lost like six weeks that we could have had these kids out."

But, O'Dell says they kept a list of last year's employers, so it didn't take long to match qualified young workers with jobs they could really learn from.

"I love working here," said Natasha Austin, a Southeast Missouri State University student working in the lab at Buzzi Unicem USA.  Austin's studying for a degree that could put right back in this environment.

"With criminal justice, you have labs," Austin explained. "So it's made me think about working in a lab for my degree."

"Having Natasha here has been a joy," said Cheryl Crittenden. "It's allowed us the time and manpower to do some of the experiments and some of the testing that may have been put on the back burner."

June O'Dell calls it a win-win, benefiting local businesses because "it gets some of these jobs done that the employers right now don't have the extra money to hire staff" and young workers, because "a lot of these on-the-job experiences in the summer gives them a chance for exposure to that particular industry".

Workers finish the program at the end of September. Organizers hope the skills and insight they've learned, lasts a lifetime.

For more information on the Workforce Investment Board, call 573-334-0990.

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