NEW BRITAIN – The Opportunities Industrialization Center has partnered with the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce to urge businesses to help fund the Summer Youth Employment program, since there’s funding for only 56 of 175 youngsters who applied for the program.
The teens will be sent to a work site where they will provide a service, but the worksites don’t have to pay the youth. OIC pays them with the collected funds.
Paulette Fox, executive director of OIC, said the 56 slots were funded by Capital Workforce Partners with state dollars.
Donations from businesses would be used to pay the rest of the youngsters that applied for the program.
The only businesses that have contributed to the 2019 OIC’s Youth Employment program are Spring Brook Ice & Fuel Services, The Tomasso Group and the City of New Britain. The three have contributed a total of $8,000.
“The $2,000 is what really would provide a youth an opportunity to have a summer work experience,” Fox said. “That covers everything. They don’t pay taxes. We don’t have to take out federal state taxes because they are exempt.”
Fox calls the lack of funding disheartening and disappointing.
“I think it’s a crisis, the youth not being able to have summer youth employment opportunities,” Fox said. “OIC has been operating the summer youth program for 35 years. First it was in partnership with the city of New Britain, years ago.”
Fox said that when she started, 34 years ago, the OIC’s Summer Youth Employment program served 500 to 800 youth.
“My first year, I had a whole summer staff, 800 kids had jobs from the ages of 14 to 18 years old in 1986.”
The selected youth will make minimum wage for 120 hours. They will be placed at worksites throughout the city of New Britain, Newington and also West Hartford.
Because of the amount of funding, OIC had to stop the application process.
“We had to cut it because we know that New Britain only has 56 slots from OIC,” Fox said.
HRA also has its own youth employment program.
“Between the two of us, we have less than 200 slots,” Fox said
According to Fox, 200 slots of summer youth employment is too low of a number compared to the amount of children who are eligible to work in the local high schools.
Employment priority is given to high school seniors who just graduated, juniors and sophomores.
“Most employers want the older youth,” Fox said. “A lot of the youth that we do hire are youth that come with some of the soft skills because [of] OIC operated high school programs preparing the future work force.”
Work sites are in charge of supervising and training the youth in the positions they are expected to fill.
“We go out every day to check the work sites,” Fox said. “But we send the best kids out there because employers do not have time to babysit our kids. These kids are not filling jobs. They are enhancing a business.”
July 1st is orientation day for parents and youth. From July 8 to 12, youth will have a mandatory orientation and if they miss one day of orientation they will be automatically terminated and the slot will be given to a different youth.
From July 15 through Aug. 16 is when the teens will officially be working.
To learn more about OIC’s Summer Youth Employment program, call 860-224-7151.
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Help:
What: OIC Summer Youth Employment program.
How: Call OIC 860-224-7151.
Where: 114 North St.
Amount: Donations can be made in any amount.