A whole new world of opportunities has opened for young adults ages 18 through 24 who need a little help deciding what's next in life.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a federally funded program available through Tehachapi Unified School District's Adult School.
"We help youth find jobs," said Angela Nary, WIOA technician. "The program pays for 500 hours of employment for each participant."
Ten people are currently enrolled in the program; however, Nary said she is looking for at least 10 more individuals who need help securing a job or even finding a direction in life.
Through the WIOA program, participants are paid minimum wage to work positions with host employers, such as Rite Aid in Tehachapi.
"We set up host employers in town, and we basically give them a free employee, and the program pays their wages," Nary said. "It gives them job experience."
Nary went on to say that it is up to the participant, and the host employer, whether permanent employment transpires. If there aren't openings, Nary said, they'll they to get them another job somewhere else.
Nary and co-technician Jessica Masferrer are trying to enlist others into the program, which continues to grow.
In addition to employment placement, participants have the opportunity to earn $1,000 to use for incentives. For example, $50 is earned by obtaining a typing certificate, $100 for finishing adult school classes and $100 for finishing work experience.
In addition to paid work experience and incentive money, participants are offered supportive services including bus passes for transportation to workshops and training, food donations, work clothing and tools, hygiene kits, utility assistance for shut-off notices only, referrals to additional community services including food, haircuts, housing and more.
Workshops available through the program include bike repair, dress for success, mock interviews for job preparation, resume assistance, personality assessment and financial literacy.
Nary and Masferrer also offer post-secondary preparation and transition assistance in completing college applications, grants and scholarships.
Eligibility includes young adults who are low-income, homeless, runaways, school dropouts, foster care, pregnant or parenting or disabled.
"This program gives them hope," said Masferrer. "We have one kid in the program who is homeless, and he is going to college now full time."
Additional assistance is given to individuals who have been emancipated, experienced recent trauma, psychological programs, never held a job or been fired from a job, or has a history of substance abuse.
"We help to give them guidance to help them get along their way," Nary said.
WIOA is looking for new host employers as well as donations of new or gently used work clothing and bicycles for participants to use as transportation to and from work and classes.
For more information, contact Angela Nary at 822-2266, ext. 02716 or Jessica Masferrer at ext. 02717.