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Community News: Mid-City

WESTLAKE : Job Program to Aid 14- to 30-Year-Olds

August 21, 1994|LESLIE BERESTEIN

In an area where opportunities for teens and young adults are sometimes hard to find, city, school, business and community representatives recently announced the launching of Youth Fair Chance, a federally funded job training program that will benefit local 14- to 30-year-olds.

Organizers--who include the city, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Rebuild L.A., the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Ketchum Downtown YMCA--are already at work obtaining job listings and developing training strategies.

The Community Development Department, with the assistance of Councilman Mike Hernandez's office, prepared the proposal for the $3-million Department of Labor grant, which was awarded to the city in late June and will fund the program for 18 months. An additional $1 million in federal funds will be disbursed annually for the following three years.

Once job listings are obtained and the program kicks off with enrollment in October, high school students and graduates in need of work will be trained for the positions. Tony Perez, press deputy for Hernandez, said this creates a more efficient system of job placement.

"We're going to solicit jobs as opposed to training people for something that's not really out there," he said. "We're saying, 'Give us the job slots first, then we'll have a constant pool of people.' "

College-bound students in search of part-time work will not be ignored, said Ken Suto, a career adviser for Belmont High School, which will sponsor in-school training. But the target population for Youth Fair Chance is young people graduating from high school and looking immediately for work.

"The whole purpose of this grant is to make sure that kids who are not going to college will have jobs when they graduate," he said.

Perez said emphasis will be placed on jobs in higher-paying high-technology fields, so that the youths aren't relegated to the low-paying jobs that are sometimes the only option open to unskilled, non-college graduates.

"Ultimately, what we're doing is preparing a population base for those high-tech jobs," Perez said.

Sue Flores, director of Youth and Employment Services with the Community Development Department, said a waiting list of job-trainee hopefuls is already growing.

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