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DHR launches annual youth employment program

 The Department of Human Resources (DHR) annual Summer Youth Employment Program or SYEP kicked off last Thursday, with 125 youth members on board.

Moana Purcell with DHR said some of the youth are in high school, others are attending the community college, while still others have yet to attain jobs. The theme for this year’s SYEP is “ the sky is the limit”.

“There are a total of close to 40 worksites, some with the government but a majority with the private sector” she said. Mrs Purcell explained that SYEP is an eight week program that kicks off with a workshop in classes, where they separate the youth according to their age.

She said one class has high school students with the ages ranging from 13-17, while other classes are for ages 18-21.  

Purcell explained that the importance of the SYEP is to help the youth prepare themselves for their future, in obtaining a job, pursuing college, and giving them a feeling for the work environment.

She explained that the purpose of having workshops before the youth are assigned to their worksites is to emphasize the importance of working to improve employability skills through readiness training and strengthening activities in educational pathways as well as occupational skills. 

The training will focus on career planning, financial literacy, basic skills (including math and computer literacy), work habits, and time management, she noted.

Purcell told Samoa News that in previous years, DHR had up to 500 students involved in the SYEP;  however given the limited funding the program had to be minimized to its current level.

“We’re lucky to even have this program exist given the limited resources” she said.

She explained that in choosing the applicants for the SYEP, the DHR must go by the student’s qualifications; and the paperwork involved regarding student eligibility is tremendous, with one of the qualifications is that students must come from low income families.

Purcell said they go into the schools in February to choose the students and the selections are made by April.

She noted that one the biggest challenges that DHR faces is looking into the private sector for job placement for the students. Purcell said that the private sector plays a huge role in the SYEP, which is very helpful.

Youth participants will work four hours a day for 20 hours a week and will be paid $4.41 per hour. She said that it’s important for the students to know where they can go and what they can do in life, instead of saying “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve ” ten years from now.