READIPeekskill20170503Westchester/Putnam, May 2, 2017 — The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board in partnership with Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) will launch a new initiative to help youth get ready for the workplace. The program, titled READI, will be launched in May in Peekskill and is designed to help students and young adults understand and apply specific attributes in order to be more successful at work: Respect, Enthusiasm, Articulate, Dependable and Initiative.

The curriculum will be taught during three session, two evenings, Monday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 17th and Saturday, May 20th. Registration is open to individuals interested in being trained to deliver the curriculum to youth. Registrants must attend all three sessions and there is no cost to take the training. Youth agency representatives are encouraged to register as are retired teachers and others who work with youth in any capacity. Applications for consideration can be submitted online or by contacting Allison Jones by phone at 914-813-6153 or by e-mail at alw3@westchestergov.com. Applicants will be screened and coordinated by the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board.

“We are looking for individuals who can commit to nine training hours to learn the READI curriculum and then deliver the course to youth through their organizations and/or train others within their agency. We encourage those who have an instructional and/or teaching background or professional development experience to apply. Retirees are especially encouraged and of course an interest in youth is a must! It’s a great opportunity to make a difference in a very grassroots, boots-on-the-ground way,” states Donnovan Beckford, Director of Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board.

A critical component of the training is for the youth to be employed over the summer where they can put those new skills into action. The Workforce-Development Board will work with the various agencies to facilitate this process including the Westchester Business Council. Discussions have already begun with the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce located in Peekskill.

The pilot program in Peekskill will serve as an example for others as it is rolled out across neighboring municipalities over the next twelve months. A kick-off event is tentatively scheduled for the week of June 26th with youth who have completed the curriculum along with potential employers who are ready to hire.

In addition to the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, Partners involved with bringing the curriculum to Peekskill include WestchesterGov.com, The Guidance Center of Westchester Inc., Westhab Inc., and The Westchester Bank lending support for PR and marketing of READI through a grant to WCA.

Program History
In November 2011, The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) appointed an ad hoc committee to examine the attributes that businesses look for when they hire youth and to develop a strategy for helping teens prepare for the work experience.  The committee was comprised of representatives from local colleges, universities, businesses, business membership organizations, youth services organizations, and religious organizations.

The committee recommendations became READI. Hospitality Resource Group was hired to develop the curriculum which was then made available to a few pilot organizations in Westchester and Putnam counties to help youth prepare for the workforce. WCA’s Connecting Youth workgroup fully endorsed the initiative. The WPWDB is now preparing to implement the next phase; training for and distribution of the curriculum on a wider scale and Peekskill will be the site of the initial launch.

“As a child advocacy organization, we would like to see more youth serving organizations throughout the county trained in READI, but the biggest challenge is training large groups of people. Volunteers from the Peekskill community will play a vital role in getting this training to as many of their young people as possible.” Allison Lake, Deputy Director, Westchester Children’s Association.

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The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board provides an environment where job seekers and employers interact to meet the needs for a highly qualified regional workforce. The WPWDB seeks to strengthen partnerships with business sectors, service providers and the public education system to offer career services and various training modalities to youth and adults. Seeking innovative solutions driven by regional business needs, WPWDB develops model programs, pursues funding opportunities, and shares leading edge practices. The One-Stop Career Centers are physical locations that provide resources and services to job-seekers to assist in their job search and development and or career change. The centers are staffed by a wide cross section of staff drawn from the one-stop centers partnering agencies. The centers offer a wide range of services and state-of-the-art equipment that is used to train customers to fit into the future workforce.

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