Reaffirming her commitment to broadening the County’s economic development efforts and creating employment opportunities for youth, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today launched the Cook County Works Youth Employment Program, aimed at providing training and employment to youth throughout the region.
“We are emerging from a time of terrible economic hardship – the worst economic conditions in over seventy years. That is something we are all facing – it’s a tough time for families, communities; for government at every level. Every job is becoming more competitive,” Preckwinkle said. “This isn’t just about a summer job – this is about preparing yourself for your future. The program provides youth the opportunities to develop new skills and learn from new co-workers – to lay the foundations for your professional future.”
Five hundred youth from throughout the region are participating in this year’s program – roughly twice as many as the previous year.
Orientation to the program began today – with workshops and speakers at both Prairie State College in Chicago Heights and Concordia University Chicago in River Forest. President Preckwinkle gave welcoming remarks at both sessions.
The orientation assists participants in understanding the demands and expectations of today’s workplace. In addition to general workforce development skills such as resume writing and interviewing, Cook County Works offers programming in financial literacy, dressing for success, time management and motivational speakers.
Preckwinkle was joined by Karin Norington-Reaves, Director of Cook County Works (CCW).
“This week’s Summer Youth Employment Program orientation helps set the tone for our focus on administering the Workforce Investment Act programs while supporting our providers and holding them accountable. Most importantly, the orientation assists participants in understanding the demands and expectations of today’s workplace. And it equips them with the tools necessary to have a successful summer job experience,” said Norington-Reaves.
President Preckwinkle also highlighted the day of service that the program requires, stressing the need for young people to become more engaged in their communities in order to foster more positive change in the neighborhoods they live in.
“This program is one that is absolutely necessary – but it about more than just a summer job,” Preckwinkle added. “We all need to work together to improve our economic, political and social health. All of us need to become active in improving our communities, taking ownership of our neighborhoods and communities.”
In late April, President Preckwinkle announced the reorganization of Cook County Works, then known as the President’s Office of Employment and Training (POET).
“Cook County Works is transitioning to a new service delivery model under which we will no longer provide direct services such as case management to clients,” said Norington-Reaves. “We have identified $1.5 million in wasteful spending and it has been eliminated to provide more effective and efficient services.”