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WorkForce: Getting teens ready for the working world

A key to helping the community’s youngsters stay on the straight and narrow is providing them with employment opportunities.

To that end, Tony Dandridge, the president of the School District 18 Community Education Council (CEC), has developed a program, called WorkForce, in conjunction with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), and operated in association with the District 18 CEC, that combines a clearinghouse for jobs for teens and young adults with mentoring and training to help ready them for the work world.

Some 18 months into its existence, about 450 teens are enrolled in the program, in 12 schools around the city, Dandridge said.

Because the program originates out of COMTO, the jobs are in the transportation sector, specifically with such agencies as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority, Dandridge said.

Among the skills that are taught as part of the “job shadowing” aspect of the program, Dandridge explained during a phone interview, are “resumé writing, life skills, presentation skills, interviewing, and how to fill out job applications.” The teens and young adults spend between two and six hours a month attending seminars and programming, he added.

According to Dandridge, the WorkForce program starts in intermediate school with mentoring, that continues in high school, along with internship and apprenticeship programs, as well as for college students and graduating seniors.

“Then, once they are age eligible, we start getting them employed,” Dandridge noted.

At a recent meeting, Dandridge spoke about the program members of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA), gathered at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue.

“You wouldn’t believe how many job opportunities are available, that they just don’t know about because nobody’s telling them. If you don’t know where to go, you can’t find these jobs, but people are getting these jobs every day,” Dandridge stressed. “We want to bring this information to the community.

“We need to get our children out of the streets, and becoming productive citizens in the community,” he went on. “We want to get our young people engaged in positive activities so we are not always talking about the negative aspects.”

For further information about WorkForce, call the CEC office at 718-566-6037.

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