Grants help county groups' intern programs


BRATTLEBORO -- Two Windham County groups will receive financial help to run their internship programs, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced late last week.

Youth Services of Brattleboro and Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation were both named as recipients of the state grants that will help employee more high school and college students as part of local internship programs.

"Providing workplace experience for young Vermonters helps them make smart academic and career choices, gives them a foot in the door to some of the best companies across the state that are hiring, and helps keep them here in Vermont after graduation," Shumlin said after announcing the grant awards. "Given Vermont's strong recovery from the recession, and the number of good jobs we've got ready to fill from St. Albans to Brattleboro, the need for these programs has never been greater."

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation will receive a share of a $350,000 statewide Internship Program grant that will go towards BDCC's new collaborative it formed with six area colleges.

Earlier this year leaders from Landmark College, Marlboro College, School for International Training, Vermont Technical College, Community College of Vermont and Union Institute announced they were forming the Windham Higher Education Collaborative in an effort to work more closely together and to offer students from each college greater access to the other schools.

As a part of that agreement BDCC hired an internship coordinator to help the students from the six schools make connections with area businesses to set up internships.

Andy Robinson, BDCC director of workforce development, said the state money will help hire an internship coordinator who will work with the students and make connections with area companies.

The state money, he said, will allow BDCC to get the program off the ground, in the hope that the program would become sustainable on is own with aid from the colleges in the future.

"The idea was we wanted to create a one-stop shop for the schools so when they have students who want to do an internship they would be able to deal with one person," said Robinson. "This is going to be away for students in Windham County to learn about which companies are offering internships."

Robinson said 19 companies have expressed an interest in the program

"When students are going to school in this area we want to expose them to what opportunities are available out there" Robinson said.

"Involving students in the workplace builds their confidence, their career awareness, and their future marketable skills," Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said. "It gives them networking opportunities and allows then to decide which occupations might best suit their interests. And most importantly, it allows them to apply classroom knowledge to the real world."

Youth Services of Brattleboro will receive funding for its summer internship program.

The grant is part of the Department of Labor's Summer Opportunity Employment program, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The program targets at-risk students and this summer about 700 Vermont students are expected to take part in the summer work program.

Bianca Barry, youth development director at Youth Services of Brattleboro, said the federal labor grant will go toward the summer internship program in the Bellows Falls and Westminster area.

The program puts 12 teenagers to work during the summer in the competitive program that typically receives 20 to 40 applications.

Barry said for many of the teenagers it is the first time they will be responsible to show up for a job and she said the youth develop skills that extend far beyond only what they learn at work.

"They learn all sorts of life skills that are necessary to help them become independent adults," Barry said. "Hopefully they come out of the program understanding what it means to be a good employee."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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