Utica, NY (WIBX) - The annual Work Readiness Day kicked off at MVCC this morning! About 300 area youths are preparing for their first day of work in Oneida County as part of the Summer Youth Program. Dave Mathis, Director, Oneida County Workforce Development says the students will be working in a number of different jobs and says it's about preparing them for a successful future.

Mathis said, "For many of these youths this is their first job, first time and first opportunity to earn a paycheck, to work with other people, to take orders and to really start on their careers. So, without work many of these youths would be not doing anything in the community. This summer they're earning a paycheck and they're learning work skills." There's currently a waiting list to join the Oneida County Workforce Development Summer Youth Program but Mathis says interested youths can prepare for next year's selection by volunteering at different agencies to gain valuable work experience. The youths, many recent high school graduates, will be working at many different organizations and non-profit groups throughout the county.

County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr., who spoke at the event held in the Theater, IT building says he got a head start in his career as a public official partly because he took part in the program as a youth. "When I first got involved many years ago in the summer program, particularly as a counselor, it really opened my eyes up to public service and helping people, in particular the young people in that time when I was working, and it really did move me into a public service future. And here I am many years later--some 30 years later--still working in public service and still enjoying it."

Zackery Rodriguez is 14-years-old. He's one of the youngest participants taking part in the summer work program. He said he decided to join so he can earn a paycheck and learn work skills which will come handy in the future. "I'm just trying to get some money to buy things," he said. He goes on to say, "It'll give me a better perspective on how to work harder, and in the future give me an experience to get a paycheck." His job this summer is at the Leaf, Loaf & Ladle Program at RCIL, (Resource Center For Independent Living).