IRON COUNTY—The fate of a Michigan Works program designed to provide summer jobs for area youths remains up in the air, according to the agency’s regional director.
“If I were a betting man, I would bet against it,” Western Upper Peninsula Michigan Works Director Keith Johnson said.
In 2012, the summer jobs program provided work for 25 Iron County residents between ages 15 to 21 with a total payroll of $74,000. Employees worked under the supervision of city, county and township public works departments. According to the Michigan Works website, the program provided jobs for more than 20,000 youths statewide.
But the state has changed the program focus from providing summer employment to providing job training and mentoring, Johnson added. The cost of that training cuts deeply into the program’s budget and is labor-intensive.
“Part of the beauty of the program was that it freed up full-time staff to work on more in-depth projects,” Johnson added. But mentoring and training requirements might make the program cost-prohibitive for many municipalities.
Johnson hopes to learn if the summer program will be available this year by the beginning of February.