WILKES-BARRE — It’s only $20,000 from the United Way of Wyoming Valley, but proponents contend the new YES program the money will help implement in four area schools can improve the future for thousands of students.
“As the Baby Boomer generation retires, technology evolves and the unemployment rate drops, employers everywhere are challenged to find employees with the skills needed to meet the demands of the current and future workplaces,” United Way Executive Director Bill Jones said in brief remarks introducing the new YES program.
Short for Your Employ-ability Skills, YES is a 120-hour, year-long elective course designed to teach a wide range of basic skills in writing, being interviewed, interpersonal communication, stress management and personal finance and business etiquette, to name just a few of the 38 “modules” included in the curriculum. United Way is teaming with the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Council to get the class into the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center, the West Side Career and Technical Center, Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Greater Nanticoke Area School District.
Courtney Fasnacht, the council’s executive director, said the curriculum was developed “to align with the most requested training” sought by businesses and industries in the region. She also noted the program has drawn support from Penn State University, which offers a $1,000 scholarship at several campuses, including Hazleton, to YES graduates.
The program also works to provide tours of area businesses, she added, and “there is the potential for internships” as it grows in this county.
Greater Nanticoke Area Principal Amy Scibek said the program dovetails well with expanding efforts to prepare students for employment. She noted last year the school provided a 45-day “career exploration” program designed to expose ninth-grade students to job options. The YES classes will be given once a week all year to 10th-grade students this year, and the district is hoping to provide job-shadowing opportunities to 11th-grade students the following year.
Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the program does not require any new hires. A teacher currently working in the library will handle the weekly classes.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish