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A look at the Youth Employment Program in Great Falls

Brooke Thill
Posted at 4:53 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 18:53:06-04

Nearly everywhere you look, you can see “we’re hiring” or “help wanted” signs advertised on businesses. From fast food to retail and even corporate offices, companies are recruiting new workers. One program in Great Falls is helping teens and young adults prepare for the workforce and fill some of the vacancies.

Eighteen-year-old Brooke Thill works at Opportunities Inc. She explained, "I come every day, sometimes I will come earlier than what I’m supposed to because I love this office so much, and I answer the phones and help customers who come in and answer their questions.”

She's one of the teens involved in the Youth Employment Program, teaching 16 to 24 year-olds workforce skills. They’re skills that may seem simple, but go a long way in work and life.

“Showing up to work, showing up on time, making sure you’re there every day, how to dress when you go to work, how to talk when you go to work. Things like interacting with your coworkers. If you have a disagreement with coworkers, if you have a disagreement with your boss,” explained Jeff Beisecker, Opportunities Inc. Employment and Training Coordinator.

Some of the teens and young adults in the program have struggled with the law or school, some have dropped out, others live with anxiety or just need a little encouragement.

“I initially got involved with it because I’ve always had a hard time trying to find a job that could fit my needs and not be so claustrophobic and overworked. They understand where people like me come from because they work with them all the time and they can understand their needs and put them where they would work best in the program,” Thill said.

The Youth Employment Program focuses on helping participants in all areas of life - from housing needs to financial literacy and educational milestones such as completing the HiSET exam. Young adults are encouraged to dream big and set goals.

“I’ve always wanted to become a beautician and go on to do hair and makeup. Eventually they’ll help with that but right now they’re teaching me how to work in a working environment and get a feel for what it’s going to be like out there in that job,” explained Thill.

Brooke Thill talks about Youth Employment Program

The pandemic hasn't slowed the program down at all - in fact, Beisecker said they've seen an uptick in the number of participants. In an age of an abundance of “help wanted” signs, Opportunities is teaching the younger generation the value of hard work.

“We are really working with our youth to be self-sustaining and have a place to live you need to work hard and we really push that. To be hard workers wherever they go. Not just come and get a paycheck,” said Beisecker.

Opportunities Inc. serves people in Cascade County, Pondera County, Glacier County, Teton County, and Toole County.

For more information, click here to visit the website, or call 406-761-8462.