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Cooking Up Jobs For Youth

By Dave Lucas


Albany, NY – Youth Unemployment numbers are at crisis levels in this recession. Government officials gathered at the Albany Elks Lodge to showcase a local program that's giving young people a fresh start... Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The Elks Lodge is participating in a job training program run by the Culinary Tech Center in Albany, which received federal stimulus money by way of the Department of Labor. Under the Disconnected Youth grant program, 20 young adults are training for jobs in the restaurant industry. Commissioner Colleen Gardner of the State Department of Labor says nearly 20 percent of young people in the Capital Region may be unemployed.

"Unemployment among young people has skyrocketed in this recession, both nationally and in the Capital Region," said Commissioner Gardner. "Nationally, some estimates place the youth unemployment rate at over 21 percent. Locally, analysis of recent Census data shows that nearly 20 percent of young people in the Capital Region may be unemployed."

"That means that nearly one in five young people are unemployed. Study after study has shown that the number one predictor of future success in the workplace is early exposure to work experience. These statistics show that all-too-many young people aren't getting that early foundation for workplace success."

The Culinary program runs five-hours-per day, five-days per week training program. It is aimed at young adults with educational deficiencies and other barriers to employment, such as substance abuse or homelessness.

Participants learn everything from cooking techniques to menu planning, as well as basic work skills like the importance of coming to work on time, and getting along with co-workers. Statewide, more than 1,700 young people will benefit from the grant program, which Albany County Executive Mike Breslin counts as a huge asset to the community.

Currently, the Culinary Tech Center is running two classes: one in the morning and another in the afternoon. A new class will begin in late March, and there are openings. To find out more, call Mrs. Christy Jerome at the Culinary Tech Center at (518) 438-1126.