Workforce Services: Helping Frederick County Youth Overcome Career Barriers

A variety of barriers can discourage the youth from pursuing a career. Frederick County Workforce Services works to break down those barriers for young individuals facing obstacles such as a disability, income, family situations, etc.

Through federal and county funds, young individuals, both in-school and out-of-school, aged 14 to 24, are enabled to pursue their career goals with grant-funded, individualized career services at Frederick County Workforce Services, a partner of the American Job Center network.

Upon enlisting the help of Frederick County Workforce Services, the youth develop an individualized plan of action with the staff. Interests, goals and obligations are considered before determining the course of action towards their career goals.

Using the strategy they’ve developed, the individual is enrolled in any necessary trainings or certifications for the line of work they’re seeking. If needed, Workforce Services also assists the young individual with creating a resume or practicing interview skills. When the individual is ready to enter the appropriate field, a connection is made with a Frederick County business or employer.

Funding for these youth programs is provided through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a nationwide initiative enacted in 2014 to put Americans back to work. This funding is used to pay for the trainings or certifications that are needed for their desired field and to furnish internships with area businesses that come at no cost to the employer.

The YouthWORKS! Summer Jobs Program also helps youth aged 14 to 21. During this six-week summer employment, young individuals work in a variety of fields such as summer camps, administration, retail and custodial services, among many others. In 2018, 130 Frederick County youths were provided with a paycheck, valuable new skills and experience in the workforce that can be used on a future resume.

Frederick County youth with deterrents to their career goals often come to Workforce Services having been told what they won’t be able to do their entire life. The staff at Frederick County Workforce Services works to empower these individuals with realistic and beneficial career goals.

“These individuals have never been told ‘yes you can succeed at this’ or ‘let’s try this,’” said Youth Programs Specialist Rob Collings. “It’s just been a constant ‘no you can’t do this’ for them. We try to be the ones that tell them ‘yes’ in a way that’s going to benefit them.”

While youth are typically looking for jobs to earn money at a young age, the 30 to 50 out-of-school individuals who utilize the youth program annually are exposed to a staff that’s invested in their long-term career.

“I’m not interested in finding them a short-term job,” Collings said. “We’re trying to build that pathway to a long-term career.”

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