Syracuse’s unemployment rate is higher than the state average. And the situation is even worse for young people ages 16 to 24. That’s why the governor has implemented the New York Youth Works program, which will provide job training to at-risk youth and give companies who hire them tax incentives. As our Katie Gibas reports, more than 120 businesses have decided to participate, which will create thousands of jobs.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Annette Rivera has worked at Nojaim's Grocery Store on Syracuse’s near westside since she was 15. It was her first job and getting one wasn't easy.
"It was tough because not many people are willing to give younger adults the opportunity to have a job, especially at 15, 16, they think they're not responsible sometimes, but I feel if they're given the chance, they can prove themselves,” said Rivera.
Now at the store for more than eight years, Rivera has certainly proven herself. And she says it was owner Paul Nojaim’s gamble on her that shaped her future.
"I feel Nojaim played a really big role in me deciding to go onto Le Myone. I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to go on to college and get a higher education. And being at Nojaim just made me see that there’s more out in the world and not just staying here," said Rivera.
Paul Nojaim, the owner of Nojaim Bros. Supermarket, said, “A lot of people say, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ and that’s not true. There has to be a way for the will to succeed. And for communities, such as the near westside of Syracuse, many times, poverty and dysfunction has ruined the way. We realize that we have a tremendous responsibility to make sure that we’re part of the way.”
That’s why Nojaim is proud to be a partner in the Governor’s New York Youth Works Program. More than 120 businesses across the state have joined the program to create nearly 3000 jobs for at-risk people aged 16 to 24. Young workers will receive training and companies who hire them will get tax credits.
“You don’t get a job early, you end up being unemployed for longer periods of time, so the idea is to get you in the workforce early and trained so that you have a better chance for long-term employment,” said Rachel Demarest Gold, NYS Department of Labor Special Council.
Rivera added, “I’m living proof that if you start working early on, good things can happen. Paul Nojaim took a chance on me and hopefully with the governor’s youth program, employers here in Syracuse can take more chances on the youth. It just gave me the chance to get out in the workforce and learn what it is to have a job."
Rivera is graduating from Le Moyne next month and is looking for a teaching job, something she says wouldn't be possible without her early work experience.
The $25 million worth of tax credits for businesses who hire at-risk youth is just for this year. But the department of labor hopes the success of the program will lead to more support in the years to come.
The deadline for businesses and young adults to register for the program is November 30th.
For more information, visit www.labor.ny.gov.