In today’s economy, it is difficult for young adults to find jobs. Unless you have legitimate work experience on your résumé, few employers are willing to give you a chance.

That’s why we have YouthWorks; a state-funded youth employment program for teens and young adults aged 14-21 living in low-income communities across Massachusetts. Participants learn valuable skills on the job giving them an edge over other teens looking for employment.

For many teens and young adults, a placement in a YouthWorks-funded position is their first exposure to the work place. They finish the summer with a skill set that has the potential to impact their future careers.

This past summer we were fortunate to work with a wide range of employers both in the private and public sectors. In this blog we want to highlight two sectors: culinary and tech.

Over summer 2015, several YouthWorks participants had the opportunity to train side by side with impressive and reputable local chefs. Matt Briggs learned knife skills and cuts like julienne, rondelle, and batonnet under the guidance of Chef Garrison in Hull, Massachusetts. He helped develop the menu for the Wellspring Summer Lunch Program, a six-week program supported by Wellspring Multi Service Center, a local church group, and celebrity restaurateur Paul Wahlberg.

David Tejeda and Alberto Garcia learned how busy a kitchen can be training under Chef Ali at Double Tree Suites by Hilton Boston-Cambridge. They kept up with the fast-paced environment prepping food for the bustling Shipper Café as part of the restaurant’s kitchen team.

With their experience this summer and references they earned through their hard work, all three have the opportunity to pursue a career in culinary, if they are interested.

Culinary is only one of the many sectors where YouthWorks participants learned job skills. Other sectors included retail, hospitality, culinary, public service, non-profit and an especially important area these days – tech.

Technology is a hot skill in today’s world. YouthWorks participant Idalize Diaz didn’t know anything about coding before this summer. “Now,” she says, “I see this field in my future.” Idalize honed her coding skills at the Mass Mutual sponsored Girls Who Code program. As part of her web design work, she learned how to produce an interactive map. She has been doing college level work. Shane Robitaille, Information Technology Training Consultant at Mass Mutual says, “these girls are going to be so competitive in the local region.” As a result of her position through YouthWorks at Mass Mutual this past summer, Idalize is now eligible for an internship at Mass Mutual.

Summer 2015 was a successful one, and we at CommCorp are working hard with partners across the state in order to make Summer 2016 even better. Stay tuned for more information about YouthWorks!