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Elizabeth A Robinson
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New Job ChalleNGe Program to Set Youth on Path to Success - U.S. Department of Labor awards nearly $4 million for program

(May 20, 2015, Aiken, SC) A collaborative effort between the South Carolina Military Department (SCMD), Aiken Technical College (ATC), and Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute Camp Long facility will help at-risk youth overcome barriers to becoming productive members of the community.

The U.S. Department of Labor has granted $3,994,475 to form a Job ChalleNGe program to provide 300 participants the opportunity to earn a certificate of applied science in tower installation, welding, advanced manufacturing, computer networking, patient care or electronic health records from ATC.

The program, administered by SCMD, will be offered as an alternative for youth involved in the South Carolina juvenile justice system who are identified by members of South Carolina’s Department of Juvenile Justice; Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; judges; and solicitors.

“We are developing the Job ChalleNGe program to address several issues. One, the South Carolina unemployment rate for those ages 16 to 19 is nearly four times higher than the state’s overall unemployment rate. Secondly, court-involved youth often face challenges when trying to reestablish their lives,” said Dr. Gemma K. Frock, ATC Vice President of Education and Training. “This program will provide an opportunity for us to intervene early and provide youth with a chance to get back on the right path.”

Obtaining academic certifications in these fast-growing fields increases employability. A Career Readiness Certificate will also be awarded upon successful completion of the program.

The Lower Savannah Council of Governments’ Lower Savannah Workforce Investment Area (LSCOG-WIA) has partnered with the program to help participants develop leadership and job skills to enter the workforce. Counselors from ATC and LSCOG-WIA will provide academic and career counseling services.

In addition, area employers will provide presentations, discuss how to be successful on the job and offer company tours.

“We are excited to be a partner with Aiken Technical College, SCMD and Clemson for this program. The skills the participants learn in the program will be directly and immediately applicable in the local workforce,” said Andre Anderson, LSCOG-WIA Workforce Development Administrator.

Program partners aim to place 94 percent of program participants in a job within their field of study. ATC’s placement rate for all of its students is currently more than 96 percent, the highest of all technical colleges in the South Carolina Technical College System.

The 20-week Job ChalleNGe program will be held twice a year starting in spring 2016. Fifty participants are expected for each cycle. Camp Long will house participants and provide recreational activities.
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