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Internship program aligns youths, in-demand jobs

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 3:28 p.m. CDT

ST. JOSEPH — Missouri students will get some help with summer internships in this daunting economy thanks to the federal stimulus package.

The Next-Generation Jobs Team allocates $25 million toward wages for as many as 6,000 Missouri students ages 16 to 24 who seek work in high-growth industries. In announcing the state program last month, Gov. Jay Nixon said the paid summer internship program would boost the state's long-term economic health by preparing an educated and qualified pool of talent for high-tech, in-demand industries.

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Targeted fields are technology, health care and green jobs.

Jennifer Kohler, a recent graduate of Missouri State Western University in St. Joseph, was recently hired as an intern to do public relations work for her alma mater. The Next-Generation Jobs program pays her $7.25 per hour through September.

"Every bit helps ... in this job market," said Kohler, 21.

Companies have jostled for free intern labor since the program began on May 1. In northwest Missouri, 105 businesses had signed up by last week to receive summer interns. That number contrasts with nearly five times as many youths in the region — 589 — who have signed up.

Employers that recently have cut jobs have had their applications denied. Officials say that is so young people won't supplant the jobs of dislocated workers.

In Eagleville, federal funds pay the hourly $7.25 wage for seven youths this summer at North Harrison High School. Regional officials, part of the Next-Generation Team, estimate they will spend about $5,000 in stimulus dollars per youth this summer.

Lisa Hostetler, work force development manager in Trenton, said the program also teaches basic skills, such as showing up to work on time and learning how to communicate with a supervisor. With 589 youths who have applied for 134 slots in the 18 counties of northwest Missouri, Hostetler hopes the state will kick over more stimulus money to the region.

 


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