Herald News Editorial Board
Posted May 17, 2012 @ 06:55 PM
When it comes to finding gainful employment, young people in Fall River face an uphill battle. After all, with the city’s double digit unemployment rate, there just aren’t many opportunities out there — even for those with a high school diploma or a college degree. For a high school dropout, the odds may seem insurmountable.
But a pilot program being funded through the quasi-public Commonwealth Corporation — in a unique partnership with Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, People Incorporated and the Bristol Workforce Investment Board — could offer a select group of Fall River dropouts a golden opportunity. The competitive Diman Health Career Pilot program will give 10 young people the chance to learn new skills and get an internship in a growing field, with opportunities to continue their education and find good work.
In doing so, they will be given a rare second chance to become productive members of society, all the while helping people and getting paid an hourly wage.
Ten young adults, ages 18-22, will be carefully selected to receive paid vocational training through Diman this summer and will be offered a four-week internship opportunity through People Incorporated, working with their clients with developmental disabilities. They will be paid a wage of $8 per hour throughout the training and internship.
The program is open to low-income young people who have dropped out of high school and are not enrolled in an education program, are unemployed, do not have a criminal record that would prevent them from working in the field and have documents needed for employment. It gives them the opportunity to launch a career in the health care field. They will receive state certification and will even receive career counseling and the opportunity to receive an individual career pathways plan to help transition into the work force.
This model essentially creates a type of modern vocational apprenticeship, once common in traditional trades fields. It imports that model for modern use in health care training. While it’s innovative, it’s not unprecedented. This model is similar to one that’s been used by the YouthBuild program, locally and nationally, for years.
If the model is successful, Commonwealth Corporation hopes to implement it in cities across Massachusetts to offer young people who have dropped out of school — and face significant obstacles to employment — a chance at receiving a hand-up, rather than a hand-out.
The work’s not for everyone, and the wage isn’t huge, but the program offers the young Fall River residents who will be selected an opportunity to break out of a cycle of poverty and reliance on others. Simply put, the programs aims to give disadvantaged youth an opportunity to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” to improve their lots in life and help others while also helping themselves.
Qualifying applicants, 18 to 22, who might benefit from the program, are invited to attend one of People Incorporated’s hour-long information sessions at its FACE Center, 170 Pleasant St., Fall River. Information sessions will be held Monday from 9 to 10 a.m. or 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m. or 6 to 7 p.m.
Go to Diman news.