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County combines two summer work programs after low turnout last year

Gadsden County is now accepting applications from teens looking for employment over the summer months.

In the past, the Gadsden Summer Youth Employment Program has provided youth of Gadsden County between the ages of 14 to 18 the opportunity to work and earn money during the summer.

The program’s participants were paid the established minimum wage and given the opportunity to work up to 20 hours weekly for six or seven weeks.

However, in 2021, the Gadsden Board of County Commissioners voted to only hire youth ages 17 to 19, creating the Youth Initiative Program.

Last year, County Administrator Ed Dixon said the adjustment would allow older teens to receive training that would lead to industry recognized certifications in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and public service. 

Last year, county officials pitched the idea of the youth initiative program to all six municipalities and asked each of them to contribute.

According to the county’s presentation, the goal was to hire 100 work-aged teens ages 17 to 19 who were residents of Gadsden County and enrolled in a Gadsden County School.

However, the county received a very low turnout of applicants last year.

Only 17 teens participated in the program last summer.

Although $97,000 was budgeted, the county paid out a total of $22,373.84 for the teens gross pay.

For the summer of 2022, both programs have been merged to allow youth between the ages of 14 to 16 the opportunity to learn and obtain real life work skills and to allow youth between the ages of 17 to 19 the opportunity to obtain industry recognized credentials—both while earning minimum wage. 

Teens ages 17 to 19 will still be able to obtain certifications that would assist them in obtaining employment in the industry they work in while in the program.

Area teens will have the opportunity to apply to the program through Friday, April 29. 

Those who are hired will be able to work for seven weeks, from June 13 through July 29.

Youth employees will work up to 20 hours per week earning $10 per hour.

Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service