By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
It’s another sign of spring. The Rockland County Youth Bureau is now accepting applications for a variety of summer programs that connect young people to employment opportunities, job skills, training and community service.
On March 26, we announced 2015 opportunities with the Rockland Conservation & Service Corps. Conservation Corps members dedicate their summers to performing much-needed outdoor service work on public lands throughout the County. This paid internship for college-age students is perfect for passionate, excited and environmentally-conscious young people who want to grow as civic leaders, while making tangible impacts on our beautiful landscape.
On April first, the Youth Bureau made its annual call for the T.E.E.N. Works (Teen Employment Education Network) program. T.E.E.N. Works is a county-funded workforce preparation and placement program that combines a summer work experience with year-round career and life skills training for 14 to 21-year-old’s. The mission of T.E.E.N. Works is to help teens and young adults grow into successful, contributing members of our local workforce with strong goals for their futures.
While these programs don’t typically grab they headlines, we know they are among the most important services offered by county government today. Youth workforce development is an essential strategy for improving our quality of life and initiating economic growth in our communities.
The Rockland County Youth Bureau’s unique programs provide teens and 20-somethings with summer jobs that supply them more than just spending money. Our Conservation Corps members have painted buildings, cleared walking trails, designed gardens, tested the quality water flowing into the Hackensack River drinking water supply, rebuilt stone walls and planted trees. They work 40 hours a week, all summer long.
While there’s been a lot of talk of green jobs, the Conservation Corps program provides a taste of what professional ecologists, land managers and environmental scientists do, getting their hands dirty and feet wet. In a nutshell, the program offers in-depth learning and leadership opportunities for teens interested in outdoor environmental work. And, there’s no better office than Rockland County’s great outdoors!
As we work every day to reduce expenses and pay down a $138 million deficit, my administration remains steadfast in providing creative programs and enhanced resources that will follow our young people into adulthood.
According to a recent report by the Urban Alliance, the economic costs of disengaged youth are staggering: Each young person who disconnects from school or work costs an estimated $704,020 over his or her lifetime in lost earnings, lower economic growth, lower tax revenues and higher government spending. Research has shown that access to employment and job training opportunities can help young people avoid a lifetime of negative justice-related consequences.
As a former New York City police commander, I am painfully aware of how important workforce connections are for young people involved in the justice system. In case after case as a cop, I saw how justice-involved youth would have benefited by connecting to quality employment programs. Such programs would have also helped courts keep youth out of the system after an initial contact and support their transition back to the community.
The aim behind our Youth Bureau summer programs is to channel the energy of our young adults into projects that build career skills, leadership skills and community involvement. Several of the participants in last year’s programs have gone on to good paying jobs in finance, environmental science, natural resource management and other growing careers.
A study released last year by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program said finding a job when you’re older is harder if you haven’t worked during your teenage years. In addition, the research showed those who work in high school and college have wages 10 to 15 percent higher when they graduate from college.
As we work to boost investment and economic growth in Rockland County, we must not forget about our young people. A well-educated, skilled workforce may be the most important ingredient to strengthen our economy and ensure a higher quality of life in our county – today, and in the future.
*For information on summer programs offered by the Rockland County Youth Bureau, visit RocklandGov.com