What are young people from ages 16-24 supposed to do in the summer? Yes, there are summer jobs, but some are unfulfilling, boring, or not well suited to everyone.

It’s so difficult to find a summer job that helps you prepare for the future and really learn something valuable.

Somerset County has a summer program that should be a model for all of NJ’s 21 counties.

Through an initiative of The Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, about 30 young people are working for eight weeks in really important and fascinating government jobs. They’re involved in areas such as the Prosecutor's Office, the Parks Commission, the Office on Aging and Disability Services, Public Works Planning and more.

Participants in Somerset County's Summer Youth Employment Program work 25 hours per week over an eight-week period.

Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock

Most of those hours are spent actually working for employers, and four hours a week are spent on specially-designed career readiness training.

This is the fourth year that the GRWDB has sponsored the program and funding comes from the New Jersey Department of Labor.

Last year, 56 young people worked for 24 different employers as a result of the program. Based on that success, this year, the GRWDB received a state grant of $193,500 for 60 positions. The County itself provided funding for an additional 20 positions, enabling 80 young people to get paid work this summer.

Virtual weekly workforce readiness training is overseen by GRWDB staff, and participants earn $15.00 an hour for 25 hours per week. This internship/work experience continues for 8 weeks.

Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock

Yes, there are jobs that pay more, but participation in this program teaches so much more than, say, waiting tables, scooping ice cream or running a boardwalk game.

The program is a way for young people to get a real head start on their futures.let’s hope that other counties follow the lead of Somerset County and initiate similar programs across the state.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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