Federal grant to help at-risk youths in North Charleston learn job skills

A federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will help at-risk youths in North Charleston gain job skills.

At-risk youths facing barriers to employment for lack of education or training in North Charleston will benefit from a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The federal agency is funding the demonstration project with two satellite American Job Centers in disadvantaged areas of the city to improve access to job training and employment services.

The centers will offer six-week, pre-employment programs that combine classroom instruction and work-based training. Youths in the program will have a chance to enhance their job readiness and get training and paid work experience in industries such as manufacturing, information technology, transportation, health care, specialty trades and hospitality.

The grant is being administered by the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

According to a statement from the city and the Labor Department, the North Charleston area has demonstrated an extraordinary and compelling need for targeted assistance – including unemployment, crime and low graduation rates in certain neighborhoods. The grant will serve youths and young adults between the ages of 16 and 29 who are not enrolled in school and not currently working.

The Trident Workforce Development Board’s youth advisory committee will be involved in the program as well.

“Certain areas of North Charleston have been plagued with higher-than-average unemployment,” Mayor Keith Summey said. “North Charleston is full of world-class businesses, from large corporate employers to small business entrepreneurs. This grant will further assist the youth and young adults in developing themselves into well-qualified candidates for career employment. With meaningful employment, many neighborhood issues like low homeownership and crime begin to fade away.”

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said it is imperative to make sure opportunities exist to address the socio-economic challenges some youths face in the city.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.