Santa Maria is continuing to take the initiative to make sure our local youth are ready for summer employment and beyond.
This June, the Career Pathways for Youth program put on their second annual Santa Maria Youth Summit. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the program provides positive summer employment preparation activities for youth in Santa Maria in order to reduce youth violence. It also prepares young adults with the tools necessary to get a summer job or long term career.
“What makes the event unique is that it is a youth-lead event,” explained Luis Servin, Program Manager for the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board. “The goal was to provide youth in our community with a positive summer activity that would prepare them for their future careers.”
The two day event included a pre-conference for the youth participants and their parents, and featured keynote speaker Edward DeJesus. DeJesus is one of the most sought after experts on issues affecting at-risk youth with over 20 years of experience in youth workforce and in the development of programs.
The main conference also included a famous keynote speaker, Arel Moodie, who grew up on welfare in the projects of Brooklyn, NY where he witnessed those around him being murdered and imprisoned. College became his only way out. Using determination and applying what he teaches in his presentations he was able to build a million dollar event production and education company by his 30th birthday. As a professional speaker, Moodie has spoken to over 200,000 students in 48 states and 5 countries.
In addition to the compelling speakers, youth participants enjoyed a number of different panels and presentations from local business leaders, job industry experts, and more.
“The event featured a panel discussion with local business leaders that provided youth with tips and shared with them how to be successful as they begin their careers,” Servin explained.
“Additionally, we had a representative from BW Research - the organization responsible for the industry sector studies in Santa Barbara County. The presentation addressed information of where they jobs are and what industries are expected to grow.”
The event wrapped up with a resource fair with roughly 20 different local resource agencies and employers that offered job opportunities, paid work experience, summer jobs, and paid and unpaid internships.
Servin says between the two days, the event saw roughly 100 participants, and received a lot of great feedback from those who came.
“Not many people get the opportunity to hear two of the best youth motivators in the nation,” he said. “Youth were so appreciative of the opportunity and agreed every youth in Santa Maria should have heard this message.”
Servin says they plan to expand the event next year to be a county-wide youth conference.
“With additional big corporations moving into our community, we need to invest in the future workforce,” Servin explained. “We need to bring back summer jobs and summer job opportunities, so our young adults are busy learning the skills needed to be productive members of our community.”