Job prep programs help ready teens for workforce

Demand for teen workers
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Teenagers are in greater demand than ever to fill job openings across the country. If you have a teenage daughter or son, they’re now eligible for several job prep programs around Wichita.

This week, the age for substitute teaching was lowered to 18, and federally, there’s an apprenticeship program that wants to lower the age to 21 for semi-truck drivers to help ease supply chain backlogs. Locally, several organizations are also trying to prep teens to get to work.

One of those programs is the Greater Wichita YMCA’s Job Prep Program.

“Taught you the importance of showing up on time, going to work and working hard. just those principles that some kids just don’t get taught,” said Eric Sellers, who participated in the program at 16.

He credits the Y’s Job Prep Program with helping him to become a financial planner after graduating from Wichita State University.

“I am grateful for the opportunity that I had. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it weren’t for the job prep program and the Y,” said Sellers.

The program is a free 12-week curriculum for 15 to 17-year-olds. For more than a decade, the Y has been hosting the program inside its buildings. Now, it’s expanding the program to six Wichita high schools.

“Get those kids a job and teach them how to keep a job, but now we’re going to go from 80 something kids to now 200. We love to do things in the masses. This is just another program that we’re showing the community, that we can help in the masses,” said Tyrone Baker, Senior Program Director for the Greater Wichita YMCA.

The Y is not alone in helping teens become job-ready. The Workforce Centers offer a free essential skills workshop for teens as young as 14.

“They’re provided with a certificate at the end so any employer that sees that certificate, then they know that this student has been through that program,” said Aliex Kofoed, Youth Programs Manager for Workforce Centers.

The Workforce Centers also partner with businesses like Bank of America. They host the Student Leaders Program that focuses on juniors and seniors providing them with a paid internship at a local non-profit.

“It just goes back to Bank of America’s commitment around youth employment and really helping the youth in our community find that first job, and really build those skills they need to become more successful,” said Bank of America Wichita market executive Rocky Genz.

All of these programs are hoping to help teens fill the gap in the workforce.

“For any youth that’s listening, young adult, go out there and just get a job. There’s a big opportunity to go out there and get employed.”

Many of the programs mentioned above have approaching deadlines.

The YMCA’s Job Prep Program deadline is January 24 and the Bank of America Student Leader Program deadline is January 28.

Your teen can learn more by visiting the links below.

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