As the economy continues to recover, thousands of young people are still struggling to find work. In fact, people between 16 to 24 are twice as likely to be unemployed right now compared to anyone else. But there's a free local program working to help young adults get on the path to a career.
Carmen Bermudez is a young single mom of a disabled child. New to the area, and with no car, she had a hard time finding a job that would meet her needs.
"I went in for one of the jobs, and they said [the work schedule was] from 6 to 8. But no buses are running at that time, so it was difficult for me, and I had to quit that same day," Bermudez said.
A few months ago, Bermudez saw a flier about the youth program at CareerSource Pasco Hernando. She finished a week-long intensive career training, then an internship at Royal Oak Nursing Center, where she later got hired as a dietary aide.
"Before when I used to go into an interview, I'd be very, very nervous, thinking 'Oh I don't think I'm going to have it.' Then once she worked with me, I just felt more confident, and I got the job," Bermudez said.
The CareerSource youth program recently expanded to include more young people between 16 to 24, who like Carmen, face obstacles when it comes to getting hired. Some are parents, have a first language other than English or a criminal record. They may also lack a high school diploma.
"We enroll them in the program and tell them now we're going to be holding them accountable for certain things that maybe no one else has," said Marisela Castillo, youth specialist with CareerSource Pasco Hernando,
In the program, there's resume and job interview help. Young adults also get connected to GED, career and professional credential classes. To help them dress the part and get to work, there are even incentives for clothing and bus passes.
CareerSource says young people who don't take part in programs like this often suffer..
"Maybe they're not directed toward a certain goal, goal-oriented, so there's going to be a high chance for them to get into trouble or just rely on public welfare and things like that," Castillo said.
But she says Carmen Bermudez is proof that if you work hard, and have a positive attitude, even with challenges, you can get a good job. CareerSource now hopes more young people will enroll in the program.
"This is your chance to become serious and kind of get the right pathway in their future and start to set some goals, do some good things, and learn as much as they can from it -- take advantage," Castillo said.
You can learn more by calling or visiting your local CareerSource office. Additional information about the youth program can be found here.