Workability program successful in Westwood
To participate, students fill out the proper forms and indicate what type of work they would like to explore. Kathleen Copeland, a language specialist with the Office of Education who oversees the Workability program at Westwood High School, then finds an employer who is willing to provide on the job training.
While in high school, Allen worked at the Chester Airport washing airplanes and doing some custodial work. Although he was not old enough to drive a fuel truck he was shown how to fuel airplanes.
He also worked at Almanor Towing in Chester learning auto mechanics, another field in which he was interested.
“I love flying but I also love working on cars. I think I would rather fly than sit in a shop all day,” said Allen.
Now that he has graduated from high school, he is pursuing aviation. The spring of 2008, he completed a ground aviation course at Lassen Community College taught by Steve Datema and worked during the summer fueling airplanes at the Susanville airport. He has been putting most of his money towards a private pilot’s license. He has completed his solo flight but still has 18.8 hours of flying time left. The hours must be divided between instrument training, night flight, cross-country flight, solo flight and test prep.
Once Allen gets his private pilot’s license he will work towards a commercial pilot’s license, which requires a minimum of 250 hours of flying. His goal is to attend a flight college and he is also considering joining the Armed Forces. Eventually he would like to run a charter flight company.
He said he would encourage eligible high school students to get involved with Workability.
Recently Copeland held a meeting with these students in the Westwood High library to explain the program. Also at the meeting was Cindy Sanchez, the Workability I Coordinator from the Lassen County Office of Education.
“We find a position to fit you not make you fit the positions we have,” said Sanchez.
She explained on the job training was just as important as learning from reading books and writing reports. There were many learning styles and some people learned best by observing and practicing skills.
Another goal of Workability is to teach work ethics and marketable skills so students can be successfully employed.
The grant gives students minimum wage for the work they do, which is overseen by their employer. Whether or not a student keeps the job depends on employer reviews and students can be terminated from the program if they are continually late to work or fail to show up for a shift. Also they must adhere to an employer’s dress code and all other rules set by the company providing employment.
Sanchez explained the Workability program for Lassen County students is established by creating a networking system within each community to find suitable work.
“Lot’s of students in the past have had a good pay check but it is a balancing act. You must maintain a C grade average,” warned Copeland.
She also explained there were some industries and job categories off limits to minors such as law enforcement, due to liability issues.
However there are many opportunities for job exploration within the Workability program. Although Westwood is a small community it has a lot of opportunities for students who want to participate in Workability, said Sanchez.
“Most important is a student’s education. If a job fits into that and is beneficial a student will be placed,” said Sanchez.
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