CINCINNATI — A new partnership between the City of Cincinnati and several education and job training organizations aims to provide local youth not just a path to a career, but another reason to hope.
What do you want to know
- New Career Pathways program from City of Cincinnati and community partners aims to create more opportunities for young people
- Jobs program focuses on teens and those preparing to graduate
- City adds $1 million to youth hiring budget, bringing total to $2.4 million this fiscal year
- Students will work with staff throughout the year to help them track their progress
On Friday, city leaders joined representatives from Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Cincinnati Works to announce the launch of the Cincinnati Career Pathways program.
The goal of the new workforce development initiative, Mayor Aftab Pureval said, is to create “not just jobs, but full career paths for young Cincinnatians” in public service.
Career Pathways is open to youth currently working in summer jobs and those preparing to graduate.
“Our Cincinnati youth have many opportunities across city departments to convert summer jobs into professional careers,” Pureval said, adding that partnerships with Cincinnati Works and the State of Cincinnati give youth the access to “comprehensive training to ensure they are prepared for the job opportunity.”
The program has three different pathways:
Channel 1: Student jobs
Way 2: Careers for young high school graduates
Way 3: Entrepreneurship
Training can range from learning skills to become a building inspector to serving as a cadet for the Cincinnati Police Department, Pureval said. He added that other students might choose to take a job with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission as teenagers, then decide to work there full-time after graduation and work their way up the ranks.
The program includes a partnership between Cincinnati Parks and Groundwork Ohio River Valley. It provides access to industry certifications in environmental engineering, design and maintenance of green infrastructure, urban forestry and horticulture.
“Thanks to our commitment today, (young people) have exciting and impactful new access to gain the skills and experience needed to make a major positive impact in their new green career,” Pureval said.
One of the young beneficiaries is Damien, a 16-year-old from Avondale. Groundwork Ohio River Valley, where Damien works, does not provide the last names of underage employees due to privacy concerns.
Through Pathways, Groundwork Ohio River Valley offers a variety of training ranging from workplace safety and financial literacy to general workplace skills.
Damien earned his first aid and CPR certificates during his internship at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
“Having these certifications means a lot to me, especially as someone who wants to continue working to help the environment,” he said. “Being able to put on a job resume that I am an Ohio EPA Level 1 Data Collector or an Ohio State Trained Service Person is great when it comes to jobs in agriculture or horticulture, the jobs I see doing all my life.”
City Council member Meeka Owens sees the Career Pathways program as an investment not only in the city’s youth, but also in the community.
It’s a way to keep young people engaged, provide economic opportunity and ensure the diversity needed for a “vibrant city workforce”, she said.
Career opportunities keep “young people on a positive path,” Owens said. It also views improving economic opportunity as a crime reduction tool.
“Youth employment programs build our future by improving the skills, attitudes, and social and emotional competencies of our young people,” Owens added. “Most importantly, it gives them hope.”
This Career Pathways program is an extension of the city’s existing youth employment program, Youth to Work, run by CRC. However, he was mostly focused on summer jobs, including jobs as lifeguards and at local parks.
To expand the program, the city added $1 million to its youth employment budget for this fiscal year, bringing the figure to $2.4 million, Pureval said. Additional investment plans of $1 million will take place in each of the next two years.
The money guarantees partnership contracts, the payment of allowances for young people and the implementation of programs in various municipal departments, municipal officials said. The city also plans to hire a dedicated program manager and other staff to work with participants throughout the year.
These funds will have to be approved by the municipal council. But Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney assured those in attendance on Friday that it shouldn’t be difficult to get the necessary votes.
Tracy Wilborn Jr. and Chelsea Bynum, both 17, have been in the Cincinnati Fire Department cadet program for two years. They plan to become firefighters.
The program helps people interested in becoming firefighters, but who are not yet old enough to become recruits, learn more about the career.
Cadets work 30 hours a week, learning a variety of firefighting techniques during classes and other training. They also patrol city neighborhoods and attend community events with their designated firefighter.
At the end of the program, they receive an assessment necessary to graduate.
Wilborn described a summer’s forming process as “a bit like a library” because each of the members has their own unique story. They had time to learn about themselves and each other.
“We just graduated (from cadet training), we just finished one of the stories of our literary life,” he said. “We all had different perspectives on when it started, but we all had one common goal, and that was to grow.”
The Career Paths initiative also includes a pathway specifically designed for people who want to start their own business. It is a partnership between Cooperative Education and Internship Association, the Brothers in Motion program and Woodward High School.
In June, a group of teenagers selling water on Reading Road got into a run-in with Cincinnati police, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a media partner of Spectrum News.
Following the incident, Roley, a consultant for the city and founder of Brothers in Motion, met with the young men and told them she wanted to help. That led to the creation of this part of Career Pathways, Roley said.
This training aims to help young entrepreneurs obtain a peddler’s license and “operate in safe conditions”, according to the city’s statement. There are also mentorship opportunities.
“We want to move our selling waters to something bigger,” said Mekhi Kemper, 15, president of Brothers in Motion. “We all wanted to be entrepreneurs in a different way, but we only had someone to really help us and pay attention, for Ms. Iris.”