A local branch of Iow@Work is seeking job applicants and private businesses to participate in a government-funded summer jobs program for low-income youth.
Iow@Work, a part of the Eastern Iowa Community College District, has received a $4.8 million grant to coordinate minimum-wage jobs for teens and young adults in Clinton, Jackson, Scott and Muscatine counties through the beginning of September.
Wanda Wyatt-Hardwick, lead employment training supervisor for Iow@Work in Clinton County, said 42 job positions will be funded in Clinton County for the program, which runs through Sept. 3.
The program is open to teens and young adults between 16-21 who are considered low income and are part of a family unit. A family unit includes a youth who is parenting or pregnant or living with at least one other relative.
Wyatt-Hardwick said Clinton County already has a pool of about 40 candidates for job positions, and a handful of businesses have signed on to participate in the program.
“We anticipated this was going to happen, we just didn’t exactly know when,” she said. “So we were just going slowly forward with taking applications.”
Wyatt-Hardwick said her goal is to have a pool of 75 to 100 job candidates and a longer list of businesses willing to participate. So far, a mortgage company, a supply store, Bickelhaupt Arboretum and an attorney’s office have confirmed they’ll be part of the program.
Any private company that has not received federal funding within the last year or laid off any employees is eligible.
“The business could be anything from a small ‘ma and pa’ business to a manufacturing business, as long as they’re willing to train them and provide work skills,” said Wyatt-Hardwick.
Wyatt-Hardwick said there is no cost to companies that sign up to participate in the program and no obligation for employers to keep workers on past Sept. 3, although she added she’s hopeful that some of the positions turning into long-term employment for the youth who apply.
“We have a lot of kids who are economically disadvantaged, and sometimes if we can give the company a push, it’s kind of like try-out employment,” she said. “It gives the employer an opportunity to see if this person will work out. It may lead to permanent employment, and I think that it would be a win-win for everyone.”
Companies that sign up for the program can conduct interviews of candidates and select who to hire. Iow@Work covers the workers’ $7.25-an-hour wages, and the youths can work up to 40 hours a week.