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Ages 16-24? Need a Job or Experience?
January 19, 2018

B.J. Lowe has been working with area youth for most of her life, and she knows that landing that first job is now one of the most difficult passages for at risk youth.
“Even with low unemployment rates, landing a job is never a given for the youth we serve,” Lowe, assistant director for WIOA Youth Services, said. 
CareerFirst, a relatively new program offered through Walters State Community College, is designed to help youth aged 16-24 get over that first important hurdle. One important service offered by the program is a paid work experience.
“Any employer is going to want experience. Today’s young adults are often caught with the eternal job dilemma: they don’t have experience, but no one wants to hire them so they can get experience,” Lowe said.
CareerFirst matches youth with a variety of employers. 
“We want to help students choose a career field and start gaining experience. For example, if someone is interested in health care, we might be able to get a work experience at a health department,” Lowe said. 
CareerFirst serves these counties: Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier and Union. In addition, CareerFirst can help students prepare for the high school equivalency exam, gain management skills and start a plan to open their own businesses. 
To get more information on the program in Hancock and Hawkins counties, call Sherry Mahan at 423-272-4388 or email sherrybmahan@gmail.com.
To get more information on the program in Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier and Union counties, call Karen Gaby at 423-839-4026 or email kggaby@douglascherokee.org.