The program that will attempt to put almost 600 young people in Inland Southern California on a path toward education and better employment options is now recruiting participants in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The federal program, Linking Innovation Knowledge and Employment, has been dubbed @LIKE and is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant. Residents of Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties between the ages of 18 and 24 who have not been working, are not in any educational program or in military service for the last 90 days are eligible.
There are openings for 148 people from each of San Bernardino and Imperial counties and 277 in Riverside County, said James Morales, deputy director for San Bernardino County's Workforce Development Department. The people admitted to @LIKE will undergo experiences that are unlike other job-training programs, he said.
"The difference with this grant is that it provides a life coach whose sole purpose is to remove the impediments of being able to transition to work," Morales said. "It will be someone who's like a big brother."
And because disconnected youth have different situations, conversations between counselors and all the participants will be different. Some will be guided to high-school equivalency programs or post-secondary education. Others will receive counseling on how to avoid gang affiliations.
Job training, internships and placement will also be part of the program, with young people trained in jobs that could run from pharmacy technicians to welders, Morales said.
In June 2012, the Labor Department selected Inland Southern California as one of 26 regions nationwide to be pilot regions for this grant, looking for areas with significant numbers of young people who don't have clear paths to employment. At the time, unemployment in the area was at 12.6 percent, but unofficial estimates for the under-24 age group pegged the jobless rate at higher than 30 percent.
And Imperial County in December, the most recent month for which the state has reported data, has the highest unemployment in California, at 25.5 percent.
Riverside County is the head administrative agency for this program, but Morales said federal agencies are now looking to fund local programs on regional levels and not county-by-county.
"Regional boundaries are not the same as economic boundaries, and the feds are looking at these programs that way," he said.
An email address for @LIKE has been set up with San Bernardino County. In Riverside County, youth employment offices in Rubidoux, Hemet and Indio are processing applications and would-be participants are asked to go through the one closest to their home, spokesperson Cindy Davis said.
HOW TO APPLY
LIKEHemet@rivcoeda.org, LIKERiverside@rivcoeda.org or LIKEIndio@rivcoeda.org.
San Bernardino County
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