Education, workforce go hand in hand

Annual summit will help teens, young adults on path to employment

The American Job Center, a division of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, is helping at-risk, low-income or disabled teens and young adults learn the skills they need to find a job and keep it.

An annual summit is set for 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 26 at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

The center pairs clients ages 16-24 with free educational opportunities and/or work experiences. Eligibility is limited to youth who are low-income, parenting, disabled, high school drop-outs, in foster care, homeless, have an unfavorable background, or have several other “barriers” to employment.

Nypheteria Clophus, one stop operator/manager, said most of the barriers which AJC’s clients face lead them to live in a constant “survival mode.”

“Our goal is to get them to stability, and then once we get them to stability, then to success and then from there to significance,” she said.

Clients must complete a basic skills and aptitude test before they can access the center’s services. They are placed in a work site to get onthe-job training, and/or begin formal registration at partner educational providers.

Catherine Thomas, Louisiana Workforce Investment Act 51 monitor, said that each youth is monitored and coached throughout the process to help them stay on the path toward employment.

AJC’s occupational skills training provides formal education for high-demand jobs through colleges like Sowela Technical Community College or private providers, said Kendrick Celestine, human services technician. The program covers tuition and fees, along with the supplies needed to complete training.

The center also offers a time-limited, work experience opportunity for young people who have never held a steady job. The paid and unpaid work experiences with local partners help them build the skills needed to keep a job, while getting hands-on training in a specific field.

Brook LeBlanc, human services assistant, said clients in the work experience program can become full-time employees of the business in which they train. A product of the program herself, LeBlanc said companies benefit from having clients who take the work opportunity seriously because they’ve already invested the time in training them.

Thomas said the organization is not designed just for educating, but rather for employing.

“This is not a piecemeal type of thing,” she said. “You can’t just come here, go to school and do your own thing. We want you to go to school and get a job.”

For more information on any of the program’s opportunities or eligibility requirements, call 721-4010.

‘Our goal is to get them to stability, and then once we get them to stability, then to success and then from there to significance.’

Nypheteria Clophus

American Job Center

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