Bruce the Blog

Getting Young Adults ‘READI’ for the Workplace

Public officials and more than 40 participating youngsters mark the launch in Peekskill of the READI workplace training program that is being rolled out in Westchester and Putnam counties.

“Job creation” has become a non-partisan rallying cry at the heart of modern American life.

Creating jobs, though, is only the beginning. Holding on to a job is critical for employee and employer alike, especially for entry-level workers.

It’s the rare young adult who can walk into a new position cold and instinctively know how to behave every step of the way. Employees who don’t perform to the boss’ expectations are costly to businesses, which must spend time and money on job re-creation, to search for, hire and train a replacement.

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It’s costly also to the ex-employee—whether a termination or resignation—who must start over again. Plus, a suspiciously short job tenure on a resume can raise a red flag to hiring managers, making the next job that much harder to land.

With those considerations in mind, the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) has created a public-private partnership to assist teenagers in anticipating the rigors of the workplace: How to not only exist in it, but to thrive in it.

Called READI, the innovative program revolves around the core attributes deemed mandatory in job success for first-time employees: Respect. Enthusiasm. Articulate. Dependable. Initiative.

“READI was developed based on feedback we received from employers,” says Donnovan Beckford, director of the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, who calls it “a great opportunity to make a difference in a grassroots way.”

Peekskill was chosen to launch READI for a couple of reasons. There already were 60-70 youngsters enrolled in the city’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, administered by the Peekskill Youth Bureau, under executive director Danielle Satow.

She says that data studied by WCA deputy director Alison Lake showed Peekskill would stand to benefit markedly from the READI program, due to its cohort of youth in foster care and other challenging circumstances.

With a young workforce already in place, says Ms. Satow, “we were able to take advantage of READI right away.” Salaries for the youth workers are funded through state grants.

Peekskill’s pilot READI program kicked off early July 12 and ran through mid-August, a span of about six weeks.

With knowledge gleaned from the Peekskill program in hand, WPWDB is in the process of rolling out READI to other municipalities during the next 12 months.

The READI curriculum is carefully designed on a multi-level structure. First order of business is “training the trainers.” The Workforce Development Board looks for volunteers who preferably have a background in teaching or in professional development.

Those recruits spend nine hours over several workshop sessions to become certified trainers. The new trainers then pass along what they learned either directly to READI youth or to other adults directly engaged with youth—at agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco—who then become trainers themselves.

The Peekskill youth who completed this past summer’s inaugural READI program were placed at one of 20 participating work sites. The overall objective, says Danielle Satow, is that “soft skill training helps them get a better job and keep a job. The idea is to learn the curriculum and be more successful.”

The businesses who stepped up in support of the program and hosted the youth workers deserve thanks and admiration for their civic-minded generosity in helping young people learn how to succeed in the real world by showing Respect, Enthusiasm and Initiative, while also being Articulate and Dependable.

It’s common sense that any worker, of any age, who learns and practices those five attributes will be READI for almost anything.

To apply as a trainer, contact Allison Jones at 914-813-6153 or at Applications also can be submitted, and more program details found, at

Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner Agency. Its Adventix division helps performing arts venues increase ticket sales. He also is an actor, a community volunteer, and a contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at or 914-275-6887.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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