032219 Vanessa Marquez 01.jpg

Vanessa Marquez answers phones and assists clients at Lancaster County Council of Churches in Lancaster on Friday, March 22, 2019. Marquez has the internship with the assistance of CareerLink,

That’s the goal. To provide a summer – or longer – job to any young adult who wants one. Two different programs are open according to Cathy Rychalsky, executive director of the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board.

“The Summer Youth Work Experience program can lead to year round work experience,” she explains. After the start of the school year young people who are in school can continue to be employed at reduced hours or, if not in school, at the hours they are currently working.

Who qualifies? Lancaster County individuals ages 16 to 24 looking to gain work experience over the summer and perhaps longer as well as local businesses willing to give a young adult an opportunity. What’s most impressive about this program is that CareerLink shoulders the entire cost to businesses who host and train these young adults.

Requirements are minimal. The candidate needs to prove they are eligible to work in the U.S by completing an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form and providing documentation. A list of accepted documents may be accessed at I-9 Central. Returning citizens in this age group are encouraged to participate. The only criteria is work eligibility.

Transportation support is also offered in the form of a bus pass or stipend for those with work site travel impediments.

The application will identify potential areas of interest, and two or three choices of occupations and/or industries may be ranked. CareerLink will contact their current business affiliations or other county organizations to arrange a good pairing.

“What’s important to us is that we’re looking for a variety of opportunities. We want to be able to match the young adults’ interests to a work experience that makes this meaningful for both parties,” Rychalsky says. Some partners last year included the Barnstormers, healthcare systems, manufacturers, and office and administrative settings.

She continues, “We are really excited to look at what the young adult wants to do and bring that opportunity to a business. Businesses are struggling to find folks. Here’s a great opportunity for them to coach, mentor and train somebody, we’re going to pick up the wages and it might lead to a great opportunity for both later on.”

The business sets the hours and schedule with the hire. On the off-chance the combination doesn’t work Rychalsky says they still consider that a win as they would rather identify misalliances early and look at other prospects based on identified interests. With a process to address concerns on either side their goal is to have the employer continue working with the team when encountering challenges and the young adult to be comfortable voicing a mismatch.

The second, the State and Local Internship Program (SLIP), runs from May through August, focuses on young adults ages 18 to 24 and requires a company match. The positions must pay at least $10.35 an hour, and the employer must contribute a minimum of 25 percent. For example if an occupation pays $15 an hour, CareerLink will pay $10.35 and the business the remaining $4.65 an hour.

There is a second option within SLIP. Rychalsky says, “A great scenario for us is that the company brings on an intern and if they’re interested in employing a second intern CareerLink pays the entire salary for the second hire,” which can be for the same or a different position.

Requirements for SLIP are identical to the Summer Youth Experience program, necessitating only verification of U.S. work eligibility, although this program may be more suited to those on a summer break due to the four month term length.

CareerLink will be partnering with organizations including Millersville University and is open to teaming up with other local colleges, universities and organizations. With Millersville University currently operating a program for their students, facilitating employment with participating businesses, Rychalsky says this partnership is a great way to support these initiatives during a summer.

“We’d love to connect the participants to something they’re studying and are not limited to specific occupations. Again we want to make this a meaningful experience for everyone. What a great way for a business to connect and provide a work experience opportunity at a very low cost, minimum of 25 percent of their wages.”

Applicants for this program will also rank their areas of interest and can indicate an education focus.

To apply for either program look for a special tab on the CareerLink website. Interested individuals can also stop into the CareerLink office during regular office hours to speak with Tara Loew or email her.

Applications for the Summer Youth Work Experience program for both businesses and young adults will be accepted beginning in April, and Rychalsky encourages people to apply early. There is no cutoff date, and placements will continue throughout the year. Applications will also be sent to schools.

Organizations with questions for either program or to request summer program participant applications may contact Laura O’Neill  by email. Parents are encouraged to contact CareerLink for information and to notify their children who may be away at school or not in the workforce of this opportunity to gain exposure in a field of interest that could lead to fulltime employment.

Rychalsky says, “What I really hope is that every young person who’s not quite sure how to get some work experience or has struggled getting an offer, and every business who’s struggling to fill positions will give us a call. We find a way to provide the funds and the opportunity for both to have a good experience. I want to make sure that everyone who wants to do this, can do this.”

There is no numeric goal to these programs, only to help as many young adults as possible gain workforce skills, some not taught in a classroom, and build a network. The business community, operating within a workforce crisis that shows no signs of easing, benefits as well. They gain the ability to train and mentor new employees at a very low cost, some of whom may remain on a permanent basis or return in the near future.