Teens invited to get ‘Work Ready’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Teens and young adults looking to enter the work force are invited to develop their soft skills in the upcoming “Work Ready” program, which begins Saturday, March 30.

Slots are still open to young people ages 16-21, who will have an opportunity to study communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving, critical thinking and professionalism from other young professionals in the community.

The Work Ready program was launched last year by a group of individuals in the inaugural Leadership Ridgecrest class, which formed teams to execute service projects that benefit the committee.

Michelle Lemke and Keith Bennett, who were on that team last year, noted that a lot of the time and energy investments from last year’s workshops were focused on developing the workbooks and presentation materials.

“Because the hard work has been done, and now we are able to rely on a lot of that effort, I’m really looking forward to meeting the participants and finding out any ways that I can help them uniquely,” said Bennett.

Lemke and Bennett agreed that last year’s offering exceeded their expectations.

“When we were designing the program, I had some reservations that the teenagers would not be receptive or that my perception of what they needed to learn would be very different from their perceptions,” said Lemke.

“I was pleasantly surprised that most of the students were fully engaged in the program. It was fun to watch their eyes light up, and for the concepts to ‘click.’”

Lemke said that the greatest challenge in delivering the training was overcoming her own preconceived notions of what it would be like to teach teenagers. “These kids were a lot of fun and very engaging.”

Bennett agreed that the participation in last year’s program was a good indicator of success. “But the success I saw afterward also detailed my favorite aspect of the program.”

He pointed to Solomon Meech, one of last year’s graduates, who was seeking a machinist position at China Lake when he entered the “Work Ready” program.

“I should identify that I didn’t get Solomon his job, but I did talk to him about why he was good enough to get it — why he didn’t need anything else to show that he was already the right man for the job.”

Solomon is now on base, working in his field of interest. “I couldn’t be more proud,” said Bennett.

Sydney Thornton, another participant in last year’s program, noted that her involvement “prepared me for so many experiences that I knew I would have to face eventually in my life.

“It taught me things I wouldn’t normally learn in school and made the learning fun and enjoyable with amazing people my age.”

She said she came away with a stronger résumé, the confidence to complete a job interview, “and so much more that I have already put into use in my life with my new job.”

Thornton said she loved the program, the people and the lessons. “Everything about it was so incredible, and I know it can help others as much as it helped me.”

“I’ really hoping to reach more young people this year,” said Lemke. This year’s program has an expanded capacity, as well as some new elements that will enhance the training.

“I want our students to know there is a lot more to hiring a candidate than whether they know the steps to complete the task. The skills that we’re teaching are the skills that every employer is hoping that new employees have, regardless of the technical aspects of the job,” said Lemke.

“Show up! Have fun! This is your opportunity to be invested into,” said Bennett.

“Understand that we were all your age, and we were unsure of what comes next. Don’t think that it takes more than you are to be somebody. This isn’t about making you into someone — this is about becoming confident in who you are.”

The five-week training will be held Saturdays through May 5 (excluding April 20) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the SpringHill Suites.

To register or obtain more information, call Lemke at 760-793-4284.

Story First Published: 2019-03-22