Utica, NY (WIBX) - It's not too early for eligible youths to start planning for summer jobs.

That's according to Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., and other local officials, who are once again calling attention to the efforts being made to offer inner-city youths an opportunity to earn a paycheck and learn lifelong work skills.

This year, Oneida County Workforce Development, headed by David Mathis, formed an alliance with some private and public sector businesses to wided the base of support for area youths. Mathis says thanks to some financial backing from the state, the agency can recruit even more young people to work this summer. Mathis said, "The youth will work 50-hours this summer. They will earn a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which means that the youths could make about $350.00, so for a 14, 15-year-old, that's a pretty good paycheck." He says the agency anticipates hiring over 350 young people this summer.

Also, he adds that parents can rest assured about their youngsters safety on the job. "We have to follow State of New York work place regulations. There are certain jobs that youths 14 and 15 can do, there are certain jobs 16 to 17 can do, and then 18 is pretty older," he said. He goes on to say that the summer work program is highly supervised and before youths go to a job, they have to attend an orientation to learn about the rules and the program, and what's required of them.

Sam Berardino, Chairman of the Board, of the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce--a partner of the Workforce Development initiative, says the alliance is an investment in the area's young people. And, he says it's also about giving back to the community. Some of the other business partners joining the initiative this year include, Rome Area Chamber of Commerce,  Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES and Faxton St. Lukes Hospital. The program start on July 5th, however applications are being accepted now.

To learn if you qualify for the program contact the Workforce Development Agency located on 209 Elizabeth Street in Utica at, (315) 798-5908. You can also find an application by clicking right here.

Picente reminds that another important aspect of developing the areas workforce is to reach out to young people who are having a tough time. He said in addition to the Summer Youth Employment Program, the county also funds the Second Start Program at Mohawk Valley Community Action. He said, "This program has shown outstanding success, with a very important focus on Rome and western Oneida County. Sometimes, young people make mistakes. When they do, Second Start is there." To learn more about what the program offers and how it can fit your particular needs, contact (315) 765-2615.

Picente says there's more good news ahead when it comes to job training and placement projects. He says through Governor Cuomo's NY Youth Works Program, Utica has been identified as a target area to implement the initiatives, some targeting older youth. Picente says he plans to announce the developments in the coming weeks. He says the collaboration is between the Workforce Investment Board, Cuomo's office and the state Department of Labor.

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