The Workplace, 1000 Coffeen St., will add three manufacturers to its summer work program to encourage more young people to pursue careers in the field.
Great Lakes Cheese, Adams; Climax Manufacturing Co., Carthage; and Timeless Frames, Watertown, will offer internships for the first time for the summer program, which runs six weeks from July 2 to mid-August.
Cheryl A. Mayforth, director of the Workplace, said the decision to get manufacturers involved in the program was spurred by a discussion at the Jefferson-Lewis Manufacturers Summit in April, attended by more than 50 business leaders and manufacturers.
Young people ages 18 to 21 can apply for manufacturing internships this summer for the program, Ms. Mayforth said. The agency, which receives state and federal funding for the program, pays interns the states minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, for six weeks. The program is available for households eligible based on their income.
What weve heard is that kids in general havent expressed an interest in local manufacturing jobs, she said. This was our way of responding to that need to expose kids to manufacturers.
While only one internship will be offered by each manufacturer this summer, Ms. Mayforth said she hopes the employment agency will be able to offer more positions in the future if funding expands. Youths ages 14 to 21 can qualify for internships in other career fields.
This year, 140 businesses are participating in Jefferson County and 50 from Lewis County. That means 160 youths who qualified for the program wont be hired this summer. The Workplace will conduct interviews this month to fill those positions.
Ms. Mayforth said federal funding from the Workforce Investment Act for the program has consistently waned since its launch in 2002. From 2010 to 2012, annual funding has dipped from $383,633 to $330,082. Launched by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year, the Summer Jobs Express program provided $200,000 to the program to partly offset losses. But the employment agency is serving fewer people every year.
We have more kids apply than we do companies, she said. If funding drops, we have to pull back and cant do as many internships. It costs about $2,500 per internship, so you can see how many we lose.
Work force leaders are developing ideas to entice more high school students to pursue careers in manufacturing, said Julie M. Pecori, chairwoman of the manufacturers committee for the Jefferson County Job Development Corp. In addition to the manufacturing internships, the committee is making plans to reach more high school students through guidance counselors and educators.
We feel a lot of students have an errant perception that manufacturing is going to a factory with a smokestack, Ms. Pecori said. But these companies offer opportunities for job training and professional development.
The 12-member committee has made plans to create fliers promoting manufacturers for schools in Jefferson and Lewis counties. Its also allocated $5,000 to its 2012 budget to develop a DVD featuring interviews and tours at local companies.
We think this is going to be a good tool to be used by guidance counselors and teachers, Ms. Pecori said of the film.
The committee also plans to collaborate with Board of Cooperative Educational Services educators to better promote manufacturing classes.