file000103102419Lutheran Children and Family Service aims to combat youth unemployment in Montgomery County through its new Workforce Development Program. Funded by a grant from Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, the program offers free training and job placement services to residents of Montgomery County between the ages of 16 and 21. Qualified participants must also have a limited income, are unemployed or underemployed and need assistance getting employment and have earned their G.E.D. or high school diploma in order to enroll.

“The purpose of the program is to engage young people to move on a career path by providing credentialing, support and resources,” said Rich Gitlen, Executive Director of Lutheran Children and Family Service.

The unemployment rate for Americans ages 16 to 24 is more than twice the rate for people of all ages. (Center for American Progress)
The unemployment rate for Americans ages 16 to 24 is more than twice the rate for people of all ages. (Center for American Progress)

According to a report from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan educational institute, the unemployment rate for Americans ages 16 to 24 is more than twice the rate for people of all ages. Youth unemployment brings with it many devastating consequences. The report points to a greater demand on government provided services such as healthcare and welfare, increased crime, as well as an individual’s inability to pay loans and credit cards, and delays to save for retirement. The LCFS Workforce Development Program aims to combat this trend through experiential learning opportunities and job-specific literacy in healthcare and customer service, both of which have been identified as high priority occupations within Montgomery County and suitable matches for the common qualifications and interests of this age group. Program training specialists and career counselors will work with youth to develop individualized strategies to identify barriers to employment and how to overcome those barriers.

“There is a gap in social services available to youth in-need between the ages of 16 and 21 and this program bridges that gap in Montgomery County,” Gitlen said.

The program, which kicked-off in October, features several components. Work-readiness training teaches youth job-seeking skills such as documentation needed to gain employment, a mastery of interview skills and a follow-up strategy. It helps participants develop skills necessary for job retention and career advancement. This includes dependability and reliability, taking initiative to complete job tasks using problem solving, decision making and analytical skills, working professionally with diverse co-workers, supervisors and customers, and how to resolve conflicts constructively. Additionally, the LCFS Workforce Development Program prepares participants for customer service accreditation from the National Retail Federation Foundation, certified nursing assistant (C.N.A.) accreditation from the New World Association or helps them with acceptance into a technical school or college.

“LCFS is proud to launch the Workforce Development Program to help young people in Montgomery County lay the foundation for a career and higher education,” Gitlen said.

Youth who are interested in enrolling in the program, can contact Lutheran Children and Family Service by calling 215-881-6800, extension 222.

 About Lutheran Children and Family Service

Lutheran Children and Family Service is a non-profit social service organization that offers a broad scope of community-based services to a diverse clientele of children, families and seniors throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. LCFS’ programs include foster care, adoption, family preservation/reunification, Best-out-of-school-time (BOOST) and high school WorkReady, the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, refugee resettlement and employment services, immigration legal services and refugee mental health programming. By collaborating with a wide network of individuals and agency supporters, LCFS has become the largest refugee resettlement provider in Pennsylvania with office locations in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Allentown. LCFS is a division of Liberty Lutheran; a multi-service organization based in Ambler, PA. For more information,