OTTUMWA — School may be out for summer, but at least 30 young people spent the morning in a classroom learning. But the training was on something they could see the relevance of: getting a job.
"We're using communication skills," said Grace Smith, 18 of Fairfield, "like being respectful."
Classes and other activities took place Thursday at the IowaWorks building near the Ottumwa Regional Airport. Other lessons included lean manufacturing, showing up on time for work, even taking care of oneself physically.
"Keeping your body healthy allows you to do your job better and to be more successful," Grace said.
The Workforce Investment Act Summer Youth Program takes kids ages 14-21 who have some sort of barrier to success, like low grades or reduced income.
"This part is two weeks long," said Dajuan Foster, a youth specialist with Indian Hills Community College. The school, Iowa Workforce Development and other partners sponsor the program. "We're doing things to improve social skills, math and reading skills."
There's some fun, too, with four activities. The Iowa National Guard, for example, had a rock wall for students to try. A soldier gently admonished one youngster for saying, "I can't do it."
"During July, they'll go to work sites," said Foster. "They'll make some contacts and get some experience on the job."
For the younger "campers," they'll be invited back next year.
"I hope they see what they need to do to have a job," said Foster, "and come back every year until they graduate and find a job."
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark