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TC young adults can get help obtaining GEDs, college and jobs

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KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center has many programs and services

LOUISVILLE, Ky.– Out-of-school youth, ages 16-21, in Trimble County now can get tutoring assistance and financial incentives to complete their GEDs through the expanded services of the  KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center. Young adults in the county also can explore financial assistance for college and job training, receive career counseling and get help applying for college and job training.

“Employers tell us that they need workers who have good job skills. They want to hire employees who can read and understand directions, who have basic math skills and who know their way around a computer,” said Michael Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks. “Getting a GED is the first step in helping these young adults become more job ready. After that, we can help them find training to increase their skills and get a job or find financial assistance for college.”

The KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center’s main office is located in Bullitt County. However, Youth Career Specialist Christian Burns has been working with young adults in Trimble, Henry and Oldham counties for nearly a year and has many success stories to share about getting youth back on the path to completing their education and job-training goals.

Help overcoming barriers

Brittany Wilson had such severe migraines that she couldn’t sit up let alone go to school. Though she was an A-B student as a freshman, her grades started slipping in her sophomore year, and she dropped out.  

Today, the 17-year-old Henry County resident’s migraines are managed and less frequent. And with assistance from the KentuckianaWorksYouth Career Center, she was able to complete her GED in November 2011.

She is poised to enroll at the Shelbyville campus of Jefferson Community and Technical School in the fall. She will take classes to become a certified phlebotomist in the high-demand field of health care.

“I talked to them at the KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center about paying for the GED,” Wilson said. “They said the center is more than just helping you get your GED. It’s helping you get into postsecondary school, doing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and helping you get a job.”

Finding support to succeed

“I think if I hadn’t come across the KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center, I wouldn’t have been as persistent – very persistent – to get my GED, to study for it,” said 17-year-old Trevor Cameron, a former Henry County resident. “They offered as much help as possible. They did a great job for me.”

Burns, the youth specialist, worked with Cameron to find out what he wanted to do after he got his GED, why he chose that area of study and where he wanted to live and work. “She helped me locate the cosmetology school,” he said. “She told me that if I needed any tutoring or anything like that, they would tutor me. They were very helpful, actually.”

Earning while learning

Kara Beckley, a 17-year-old from Oldham County, didn’t like high school. After she dropped out, she started working on her GED, but lacked motivation. At the KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center, she found support she needed to be successful.

With transportation assistance from Burns, Beckley began attending GED classes three days a week for three hours at the Henry County Adult Education program and has completed all but the math portion of her GED. She’s already considering college to become a phlebotomist or radiology technician.

“Before, I didn’t have a good schedule, a routine,” Beckley said. “Because I didn’t have a routine, I didn’t have a plan or anything. They offer incentives. I want to go to school because I want a higher-level grade so I could get $25, and I could succeed.”

A chance to explore

Bullying forced Westley Toler, 17, to leave high school, but he was determined not to let anything stand between him and his future. He enrolled immediately in the Adult Education program in Henry County after dropping out and completed his GED in two weeks.

When he started looking for colleges, Burns talked to him about the services of the Youth Career Center. She got him added to mailing lists from schools with art programs. “If I had stayed in school, I probably would have ended up at UK or some regular college,” Toler said. “I started looking at all the materials I got and found the Art Institute in Indianapolis.”

He began classes this spring. “I want to eventually open my own store back here in Eminence and sell clothes from here,” Toler said. “I would love to work with theater, doing commissions for costumes. I’ve always been a theater kid myself.”

Center offers help

KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Centers have operated for several years in Bullitt and Jefferson counties and have a proven track record of helping young adults complete their GEDs and jump start their careers.

The two KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Centers currently serve 791 youth. Between July 1, 2011, and April 15, 2012, the youth career centers have helped 142 youth attain their GEDs, 28 attain occupational credentials such as CNA, AA or LPN, and 52 attain certification.

In the past eight months, 39 youth entered short-term postsecondary training and 45 enrolled in college. Youth and career specialists at the centers helped 184 youth find employment during that time period.

Youth career specialists, like Burns, are available to work one-on-one with any out-of-school youth, ages 16-21, in Henry, Oldham and Trimble counties to provide services that lead to GED completion, help the young person search and find jobs, and provide career counseling for college and job training in high-demand careers. The Center can assist with the GED test fee and also offers cash incentives for passing the GED. Financial assistance also is available for eligible students through the KentuckianaWorks Scholarships, which offer up to $4,600 for tuition and books per year for two years.

“My job is to be supportive,” Burns said. “These young adults can accomplish so much but sometimes they need that extra push to help them reach their goals. I want them to see that they can succeed. One success gives them the confidence to continue reaching higher.”

Burns works individually with each youth to establish convenient meeting times and locations for tutoring and counseling. When meeting with a young adult, Burns can help the person:

Identify his/her job skills and abilities
Learn how to prepare a resume and complete job applications
Become skilled at job interviewing
Conduct online job searches
Determine his/her eligibility for financial assistance with job training or college tuition

The KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center in Bullitt County serves young adults, ages 16-21, in Henry, Oldham and Trimble counties. To learn more about how the Youth Career Center can help a young person finish school, get a job or go to college, call Burns at (502) 457-3678 to schedule an appointment.

Funding for the KentuckianaWorks Youth Career Center is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, through the Ky. Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, administered by KentuckianaWorks, the Greater Louisville Workforce Investment Board, and operated by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

KentuckianaWorks serves Bullitt, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties.