FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 22, 2013) -- Jobs may be getting harder and harder to obtain, but the Fort Rucker Hired! Apprenticeship Program provides youth valuable work experience and training to better equip them for the highly competitive job market.

The program helps provide career-exploration opportunities to teens ages 15 to 18 with meaningful, professionally managed opportunities in Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation operations, said Pam Williams, child, youth and school services director.

"The program offers work experience and training to better equip each participant with the skills needed for a highly competitive job market," she said. "But, just like in the real world, participants must meet certain criteria to be a part of the program."

Prerequisite training is required prior to the start of a term. The next training workshop will be Aug. 27-29 from 4-6 p.m. at the youth center, Bldg. 2800. It is mandatory to attend all three days of training. Participants will start working Sept. 8.

"Training includes workforce preparation, interview skills, resume building, financial readiness, college preparation, customer service and post-secondary education," said Williams, adding that six additional training sessions are required during the terms, but will be counted as work hours.

Other qualifications to participate include being registered in the CYSS program, having a clean background check and maintaining a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, said Eugene Johnson, youth center facility director.

According to Johnson, it is hard for teens in today's society to find a job without having experience, but this program helps provide that.

"It is like a step in the door on their resume," he said. "It teaches them how the process of getting a job goes -- how interviews are conducted, how to prepare resumes and cover letters, how to get along with customers and other workers, and how to act in a real-world workplace."

"It also gets them out there and gives them a taste of what it is like to juggle Family, work, a social life and school," he said, adding that the teens take away confidence, self esteem and people skills.

The program is open to DOD civilian and contractor children, as well as the children of Soldiers stationed here.

"The program is a protected work environment," said Williams. "They have a mentor that looks after them that wants them to succeed. We want to give them all the tools they need for the future as well as the support system to get them on their feet."

To make the experience as realistic as possible, the program requires mandatory hours, applications and commitment.

"They will fill out applications just like they would for a job," said Johnson. "There is an interview process where the children can accept or decline if they are offered a position. And they will have to work 15 hours every week whether that is during the week, on the weekends or both."

Participants will receive a $500 stipend at the end of the term, and the teens will have their first taste of taxes when they fill out W-9s, said Johnson.

Children are allowed to participate in the program twice in one year and can do it consecutively if they choose, but Johnson said that if the participant cannot fully commit to the program then they need to consider waiting and taking part at a different time.

"There is no vacation or sick days. Only a Family emergency or a school function is an excuse for not making hours, and even then those hours have to be made up before the term is over," he said. "But teens do have a chance to get a job where they are working after the term is over."

The training and the program are free for all participants.

Career path options include: financial management, library and information sciences, marketing and graphic design, physical education and sports management, and recreation and tourism management.

To enroll, or for more information, contact parent central services, Bldg. 5700 Rm. 193, by calling 255-9638.