Last summer, Vinny Barbati had enough of working in retail and decided he needed a change.
The 19-year-old 2015 Selinsgrove Area High School graduate connected with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s YES to the Future Program and interned at the Milton center in order to gain skills and experience in a preferred field.
He is now enrolled in his second semester as a freshman at Bloomsburg University in the electrical engineering program.
“I would recommend it to whoever is in need of a job or in need of direction, whoever is not sure what they want to do,” Barbati said.
YES to the Future, a program designed to develop the potential of young adults by improving educational achievement, helping them prepare for and succeed in employment and providing 12 months of follow-up services, is available for young adults ages 16 to 24 who are not enrolled in school and reside in Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties, according to program career counselor Jennifer Mowrey.
“It’s difficult for many people to find a job,” Mowrey said. “A lot of young people don’t know how to navigate employment, find a job or make a resume. They come to us and we help them build their goals. Not everybody in the age group has those skills.”
Barbati, one of 80 participants in the program, learned about YES to the Future through Pennsylvania CareerLink when he came to find another job. He qualified for the program because he lacked significant work history. He said YES to the Future helped him properly fill out resumes, got him professional clothing for interviews, assisted with transportation needs and provided plenty of advice.
“It’s great,” he said. “They seem to care.”
During his internship at the CSIU, completed during the summer and winter breaks, Barbati ran wires, set up televisions, researched and set up audio and video equipment.
“I’m interested in how things work and come apart,” Barbati said. “And designing things on a computer.”
Ken Erb, facilities coordinator at CSIU who supervised Barbati during his internship, said the teen was a great addition to the CSIU family and was happy to bring him back over the few weeks between the fall and spring semesters.
“Yes to the Future helped him prepare for a job,” Erb said.
Erb said he could count of Barbati to do work without constant supervision. Furthermore, he said, the staff at CSIU provided transportation when Barbati was unable to get there on his own.
Mowrey said the program is a “very individualized” toward each participant. The program offers tutoring, study skills training, paid and unpaid work experience, occupational skills training, integrated education and training, supportive services, leadership development opportunities, employer based adult mentoring, financial literacy education and entrepreneurial skills development. Individuals can also work toward their GED through the program.
To qualify for the program, applicants must meet one of certain criteria, including low income, lack of work experience, not being enrolled in school, is a parent or expecting, have physical or mental disabilities, have difficulty finding a job due to a criminal record or lacking transportation. Mowrey said.
If a participant needs certain skills for the job being applied for, Mowrey said CSIU can negotiate a deal with the employer in which CSIU will reimburse the company for 50 percent of eight weeks of wages while the applicant is trained for the job.
“We always try to help them out the best we can,” Mowrey said. “The ultimate goal is job readiness, and to put them in the workforce with their best foot forward.”
The YES to the Future program is funded by the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC) through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act of 2014 (WIOA).