Individuals seeking enrollment in the Eckerd Connects Workforce Development program often think it is a GED program. The seven staff overseeing and working for the three Volusia County, FL sites (Deland, Deltona, and New Smyrna Beach) constantly correct this misperception by explaining that they are a career readiness program. Created for individuals 16-24, the program aims to help young adults develop the employment skills needed to obtain employment now, but more so learn and develop career preparedness so they can be successful later in their adult lives.
One Career Coach overseeing the Deland, FL location explains to youth at his program orientation that the next stage in life, taking care of themselves, is coming regardless of whether they graduate high school or not. He elaborates that staff on his team realize the importance of obtaining their diplomas so they can remove the negative labels associated with being a high school dropout. More so, he explains that there are only two ways individuals can provide for themselves once their support system isn’t in the picture; through legal or illegal acts. In a competitive job market, you don’t want to be eliminated as a possible job applicant due to not achieving something that is expected by society (earning a High School Diploma). He explains that America’s schools often don’t make the connection for their students on how they are preparing students to enter the workforce. To obtain and retain employment, individuals must demonstrate exactly what they do in grade school by showing up at a certain time, adhering to a dress code, following and completing work that instructors give, interacting with classmates they both like and dislike, etc.
Kevaeh expressed an interest in becoming a real estate agent this past July. Eckerd Connects set up a Work Experience (WEX) for her with a Deland area realtor so she could learn more about that career interest. The WEX is a component of the Eckerd Connects Workforce Development program in which program participants work with area employers to gain some career readiness experience in various desired careers. Additionally, participants gain transferable occupational skills that are vital for future employment. The WEX can also lead to long term employment with the employer after the 160 hours are completed, but at the very least it’ll provide participants job experience for their resume and/or a job reference for them. Kevaeh is currently working with Eckerd Connects WEX participant Kathy Aparo-Griffin Properties. Kathy has been an amazing WEX site for program participants interested in pursuing a career in real estate. Since starting the partnership, Kathy has worked with 6 program participants and hired on two of them as broker assistants once the 160 WEX hours have been completed.
Kevaeh has had various employment workshops that include: resume creation, workplace ethics, soft skills, networking, and a career interest assessment. Kevaeh also had various life skill workshops which included: anger management, budgeting, and leadership development. Kevaeh earned a SafeStaff Food Handlers certification, but more importantly, eliminated the negative ‘high school dropout’ label when she obtained her diploma/GED. If she isn’t hired by Kathy, she can obtain employment elsewhere with these two important credentials.
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