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Photo credit Rick Emert (Fort Carson)

Aug 30, 2010
By Rick Emert (Fort Carson)

FORT CARSON, Colo.-With employment opportunities scarce for all ages, a Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program beginning Sept. 20 can give teenagers an edge in joining the workforce.

The Child, Youth and School Services HIRED! Program includes four 12-week sessions throughout the year. Registration is currently open for the fall term.

The program places teenagers 15-18 in apprenticeship positions at sites all over Fort Carson. The apprentices must work 15 hours per week - 180 hours total for the session - and attend two training sessions per month. They also must maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, said Denise Dorsett, workforce preparation specialist, CYSS.

Youths apply for the program much as they would for a regular job, beginning with filling out an application to enter the program and later going through a job interview with the site manager, Dorsett said.

"I give them the name and phone number of the manager, and they call and set up an interview," she said. "It can be very daunting, because it's a cold call. They have to go through the interview (alone); no one is allowed to go with them."

Unlike a regular job, the apprentices aren't paid until four weeks after successfully completing the program, when they receive a $500 stipend. But the program is more about the training and experience they gain than the money, Dorsett said.

"We encourage them to put this on their resumes; that's the important part of it," she said. "It looks nice in any type of a resume to have those sorts of references available, especially at such a young age. The HIRED! program is giving them the opportunity to gain some of the work experience you're going to need to be competitive when you get out in the job market. It's highly competitive now."

The experience was helpful for Sarah Pearson, who attended the summer session and apprenticed at a child development center.

"I get a lot of job experience, a lot of work with the kids," she said. "It really helps me learn how to communicate with different age groups. It also helps you learn how to communicate with your coworkers."

While the apprentices gain experience and meat for their resumes, the sites where they are placed also benefit, said Dorsett, citing an example of an apprentice who spent his summer diligently cleaning one of Fort Carson's pools.

"That's not much fun to be doing at 9 a.m. every day for five days a week, but they still do it," she said. "They do it well, and they do it with respect."

Although she recommends signing up early, Dorsett said she can accept applications through the end of the first week of the fall session. Applications are available at Parent Central, formerly Central Registration, and the Youth Services Center. Dorsett can also e-mail applications to anyone interested in signing up. For more information call Dorsett at 524-2457.