Newsmakers, January 7, 2016

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers
Hope Kirwan/WPR

Youth Employment-

Most people get their first job as a teenager. But for teens with a disability, or who may be poor, getting that first job is not always an easy accomplishment.

A community conversation in La Crosse next week is designed to get employers and others more acquainted with the idea of employment for those teens.

The Wisconsin PROMISE Initiative is a program of several state of Wisconsin agencies that’s paid for by a federal grant. The goal is to help about 2,000 disabled youth in the state find a job, by offering training and incentives for businesses who hire teens like tax credits or help paying wages. Wisconsin is one of six states piloting the program with a goal of helping people who receive Social Security Income (SSI) to become more financially independent and rely less on SSI benefits.

“Learning on the job is a very important skill,” said PROMISE Project Manager Ellie Hartmann. “The best predictor of employment after high school is during high school.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse recently started Career Launch which aims to help at risk youth in the La Crosse area with help finding a job, and an eventual career goal. The teens receive help at first with basic job skills like making eye contact and shaking hands. They also get help applying for jobs, writing a resume and job interview skills.

“We see it as a need and what we’re hearing is we have to start kids younger and younger and prepare them with just basic job skills,” Executive Director Mike Desmond said. “Many of the kids who come to the Boys and Girls Club are at risk kids. They’re kids who live in poverty. If they go beyond high school, they may be the first generation in their family to seek an education beyond high school.”

Desmond said teenagers from the Boys and Girls Club who get a job gain two benefits; they can support themselves, and they gain confidence.

by John Davis

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Mike Desmond Guest
  • Ellie Hartmann Guest
  • Kristie Hemmersbach Guest