- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (AP) - When Jonathan Sandoval was looking to get real-world experience in the manufacturing field, the 23-year-old from Carpentersville heard about McHenry County College’s Young Adult Success Program.

“This program helps people who have trouble looking for jobs,” Sandoval said. “It’s a good social experience to help people and have them learn more about jobs they are interested in and how to look for those jobs.”

After graduating from the manufacturing program in the fall, Sandoval has the necessary certifications, connections and experience to help him secure employment.

“Now I’m trained in several areas that can help me get a better job for the future,” Sandoval said.

To address the issue of unemployed youth, the Young Adult Student Success Program helps 18- to 24-year-olds prepare for high-paying occupations in manufacturing and health care. The program is made possible by a $100,000 federal grant from the McHenry County Workforce Network, which enrolls the students in the program while MCC coordinates the program’s classes.

Program coordinator Justin DeBolt said the program’s main goal is to positively affect people’s lives in a short amount of time.

“This program is a win-win for the students and the community,” DeBolt said. “You’re going to have students who were struggling before, who didn’t have their GED, but this program helps them get that, and they now boast a résumé full of skills.”

The program’s first students completed it in spring 2015. Since it launched, 21 students have graduated from the manufacturing track and six have graduated from the health care track.

The manufacturing course starts by students taking life-skill classes where they set goals for themselves and help build their résumés. After that, students take a Occupational Safety and Health Administration class to get them certified. The final step of the program consists of a 40-hour welding boot camp.

“The program also includes worksite tours at local, participating businesses,” DeBolt said. “So with this last group, we took them to four different local manufacturers and facilities to see what kind of jobs are out there and if it’s really somewhere they want to work someday.”

For those interested, the manufacturing program will return Feb. 2 and run for 12 weeks. If needed, the school could open a second manufacturing class to accommodate more students in March, DeBolt said.

For the health care track, at least three students have enrolled in the upcoming program, which is a semesterlong class that caps at 15 students. Anyone interested in the health care program can take classes in certified nursing assistance, electrocardiogram or phlebotomy, depending on class availability.

“Both of these tracks have a lot of great job opportunities, so this program provides them with the necessary training to get them prepared for those positions,” said Barbara Billimack, McHenry County Workforce Network’s lead youth career adviser.

Billimack said the three students who already completed the health care track are all working full time based on the training and skills they received through the program.

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald, https://bit.ly/2j2zuDV

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, https://www.nwherald.com

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