CITY OF TUCSON/PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA
Joint Effort Focuses on Innovative Employment and Training Services for Youth
Tucson and Pima County’s long-established consolidated employment and training system serves several target populations but places a special emphasis on services to young people, ensuring they have the education, work experience and job readiness skills to be successful members of the workforce and meet the needs of the community. The 25-member Workforce Development board funds school-year, summer and year-round programs which encourage young people to stay in or return to school and which provide job opportunities.
Fifteen years ago, the City of Tucson and Pima County joined forces to deliver employment and training services to residents of the entire area. The consolidated system combines federal Job Training Partnership Act block grant funds and local and discretionary grants into a county-wide system which serves 6,000 people annually; targeted are low-income families, laid-off workers, homeless people, women wanting non-traditional careers, and youth entering the workforce, and at least 65 percent of those served must be City residents.
The consolidated system is guided by a 25-member workforce development board -- the Private Industry Council – which includes Tucson Mayor George Miller. "The Workforce Development Board is one of the best examples of City, County and regional cooperation," explains Mayor Miller. "The consolidated City-County PIC saves administrative dollars which are then used for additional services to low income people. This cooperation is especially strong in the Workforce Board’s youth programs, where both the City and County provide millions of dollars of local funds to expand and support the consolidated effort. Without this consolidated, community effort we would not have the level of local involvement we have now."
Youth Focus -- The Board has placed a special emphasis on providing services to young people, and between 1991 and 1997 has served 15,594 – 76 percent of them Tucson residents – in summer work experience and education programs alone. Through summer programs, 570 dropouts were returned to school. In school-year programs during this period, 4,706 youth were served, with 742 being placed in permanent jobs at an average wage of $5.16 per hour.
In the summer of 1997, the Pima County Workforce Development Board combined County, City, State, federal and private sector funds to serve more than 3,805 youth, ages 11 to 21 years, in summer employment, remedial education, and career exploration programs. During the school year, innovative youth programs provided an additional 850 middle school-age and high school-age youth with workforce preparation, career exposure, cultural enrichment and community leadership opportunities through after-school and weekend jobs or internships. Year-round programs also helped youth make the transition from school into meaningful careers, and provided dropouts with opportunities to gain work experience while working to obtain a GED. In 1996-97, the programs served a total of 4,655 youth between 11 and 21 years of age.
Among the specific programs operated in 1997:
Performance – The Pima County Workforce Development Board has established a goal of ensuring that young people have the education, work experience and job readiness skills to be successful members of the workforce and meet the needs of the community. Evaluation results suggest that the employment programs the board has established are making a strong contribution toward the effort to achieve this goal. In the summer of 1997:
Parent surveys were part of the evaluation. Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed felt their child’s summer experience met or surpassed their expectations; they frequently responded that their child had learned the responsibilities of maintaining a job and of managing money, and the importance of a strong work ethic. Youth surveys showed that the highlights of their summer experience were, in rank order: earning money, earning school credit, and learning how to conduct an effective job search. A six-month follow-up survey indicated that 62 percent of the participants had better grades, 94 percent are still in schools, 80 percent are on schedule to graduate, and 90 percent feel they have a better chance to find a job. Only six percent report that they have been in trouble with the law.
Contact: Henry Atha, Director, Community Services Department, Pima County, (502) 740-5205
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1998, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.