Program through city of Berkeley gives youth work opportunities, experience

Aura Barrera/Staff

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An employment program through the city of Berkeley seeks to give local youth the opportunity to gain job training and work experience with part-time temporary employment.

For over 30 years, Berkeley’s YouthWorks program has served the community by giving city residents ages 14 to 24 the chance to start gaining valuable on-the-job training and experience. The program pairs participants with city or local nonprofit jobs and aims to help them build their resumes and improve their employability, according to the program’s brochure.

Participants who are still in school can apply for a summer or winter after-school program, each of which lasts around seven to eight weeks. According to James Dopman, a law and social pathway coordinator and career adviser at Berkeley High School, or BHS, the high school actively promotes YouthWorks and encourages students to take part in the program.

“Our relationship is such that YouthWorks (via the City of Berkeley Office) is often Berkeley High School students’ first opportunity for paid work,” Dopman said in an email.“As the Career Advisor I push out the notices via email and then during our “College and Career Week” in March.”

As one of its stated objectives, YouthWorks aims to help youth improve interpersonal relationship skills on the job and in the community. Participants receive training during the onboarding process, which includes coaching to prepare for interviews and workplace skills guidance before starting at their YouthWorks positions, according to Melissa McDonough, a senior management analyst for the city of Berkeley manager’s office.

Dopman said YouthWorks is the most popular with younger students who find it difficult to find jobs at 14 or 15 years old. Dopman added that the program streamlines the process of breaking into the job market.

YouthWorks is operated by the city’s General Funds and participants in city positions are placed on the payroll with all other municipal employees, according to McDonough. Based on available funding, only a limited number of positions can be offered. Although numbers vary, McDonough noted that the summer program has 230 positions available, while the after-school winter program has 120. YouthWorks’ year-round extended program for applicants aged 18 to 24 is able to serve up to 35 applicants annually.

The city’s human resources department and YouthWorks recently teamed up to launch an online application for the first time. It is currently being piloted for the upcoming winter after- school program.

“We are very excited to have transitioned to this on-line process especially since youth and families over recent years have suggested that we move to an on-line application,” McDonough said in an email.

McDonough added that YouthWorks staff is providing assistance with the application process each Tuesday and Thursday this month, and three resume workshops are also being offered every Wednesday until the winter application deadline of Nov. 1.

Contact Jacob Souza at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @jsouza_dailycal.