MERCER COUNTY – Local students will have a chance at landing internships with businesses that will pay $10.50 an hour.
Mercer and Lawrence counties have been awarded a $141,000 grant which will pay for summer intern positions for these older students.
Formally known as the State/Local Internship Program, it’s 100 percent federally funded through the Workforce innovation Opportunity Act. Interns will work for eight weeks that must fall between May 6 and Aug. 30.
“The interns will go on an employer’s payroll for between 25 to 40 hours a week,’’ said Gregg Dogan, administrative division chief and chief financial officer for West Central Job Partnership, which is overseeing the local program.
West Central looks at student applications and finds businesses that might need their skills.
“And it works in both directions,’’ Dogan said. “We have businesses that are looking to hire interns, and we try to find students for them.’’
There have been situations where companies are paying wages higher than what the program is offering, he added.
“We’ve had companies pay engineering interns $15 an hour’’ Dogan said. In this example, the company would get reimbursed $10.50 an hour for the intern, and the business would pay the $4.50 difference.
Over the years West Central has found local businesses with permanent job openings giving them to interns if they’ve performed well, he said. That’s something the agency enjoys seeing for the two-county area it serves.
“We always worry about brain drain,’’ Dogan said. “We see our younger people getting educated here and then leave.’’
The federal funding was funneled through the state Department of Labor and Industry, which awarded the grant to West Central.
Residents of the counties who are students or job seekers between the ages of 16 and 24 are eligible for the summer internship program with eligible local employers. A total of 35 internships for the two-county area are expected to be available, Dogan said.
Mercer County residents looking to apply for the program should contact Mercer County CareerLink in Sharon, said state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7th District, Hermitage.
“This program is going to broaden employment horizons for area students by helping them develop employable skills and allowing them to discover how their interests and talents match up with real life opportunities,’’ Longietti said.
TO LEARN MORE about the program, visit www.pacareerlink.pa.gov