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Youth Career Connect, an initiative of Better Together and funded in part by East Cascades Works, connects young people to meaningful work experiences with local businesses. Beginning in 2017, Youth Career Connect deployed Internship Coordinators in Bend, Redmond and Madras, who are housed within local business associations (EDCO, The Bend Chamber and Madras Chamber of Commerce). Finding success in their first year, the coordinators worked with over 35 local employers to place over 100 interns from our area high schools and colleges.
“Having meaningful work experience prior to completing school, whether that be high school or college, is critical for young people to thrive. Youth Career Connect was built on that premise and on our commitment to increasing access and reducing barriers to internships for all students,” said Katie Condit, executive director of Better Together.
In order to expand the efforts of Youth Career Connect, EC Works sought and secured funding from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). With an additional $45,000, EC Works will support Better Together in extending the Youth Career Connect system to Sisters and Prineville. Both communities will have the support of an internship coordinator, working to increase the number of opportunities young people have to apply their academic experiences to a workplace setting.
“Students will develop highly important work skills and may discover new interests and strengths as they begin to choose their career path. An intern could very well become a future employee,” said Caprielle Lewis, managing director of EDCO- Sisters. While job growth continues in Central Oregon and unemployment rates hit an all-time low, employers continue to see the value in investing in young people. By hosting an intern, local employers support the next generation of workers and ensure that there will be enough local talent to sustain and grow their business. At the same time, Better Together and EC Works continues to partner with key stakeholders and across sectors, to respond to the growing needs of business and to create more opportunities for young people to connect to meaningful careers.
“The internship program through Youth Career Connect is a great way for our local businesses to find future employees, create retention and give opportunities to those already in our community. We are thrilled to be able to bring this program to Crook County,” said Kim Daniels, executive director of Crook County Chamber of Commerce.
As this initiative grows, both organizations are looking forward to continued cross sector support to ensure Central Oregon has a home-grown talent pipeline to fuel a thriving economy.