A local youth service is helping teenagers and young adults receive real world work experience while in high school and college.
The “Get R.E.A.L.” program, which stands for “Resources, Employment, Advancement and Learning,” works with young adults to prepare them for the workforce.
“We work with the youth and young adults, teaching them how to be successful in their career,” said Courtney Hartzog, Youth Career Coach at Get REAL Youth Services.
Different services are offered through the program including tuition assistance, mock interviews and workshops in topics such as communication, resumes and money management.
Wilkes Community College has been in charge of the Ashe County program since March 2012. The program is also partnered with the JobLink Career Center.
One of those ways is the work experience program where participants get to train directly in the field they want to work in. Participants also receive a wage through the program, so they are paid throughout the experience.
“It is a really great program because it gives participants an opportunity to see if they want to be in that field,” Hartzog said. “It also provides experience they can put on future job applications and resumes.”
This year’s participants in Ashe’s work experience program have trained in the medical, automotive and graphic design fields. Last year, the Get R.E.A.L. program had 35 participants in Ashe County.
“We pay participants in the program who qualify for our assistance,” Hartzog said. “We can pay them a wage to work part-time in a career field they are interested in entering.”
The work experience program will typically last for three or four months. The money given to the participants is funded by the High Country Workforce Development Board, who helps with the program in seven counties.
Hartzog said the program is helpful in motivating the youth to work hard.
“If students are struggling in school and are making all of the efforts they need to in the class room, getting motivated in their career helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
The program is part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which also helps with dislocated workers and those who are unemployed.
Hartzog said the Get R.E.A.L. program and the work experience program is part of the act, which focuses on the youth.