Program Focused on Career Training in Cambria County Shares Success Stories

April 3, 2014, By Lindsay Ward, Marc Stempka,

JOHNSTOWN, PA — A program designed to help young adults rebuild their lives through job training and career advancement opportunities was highlighted at an event in Cambria County.

The Youthbuild Johnstown program success stories were the focus of the Thursday morning event at the Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies offices in the Moxham section of Johnstown. The program is a six to 11 month education and job training experience for people between 17-24 years old who live in Johnstown, and did not complete high school. The program is designed to help young people get job training and certifications in health care, building and manufacturing trades while they’re completing their GED.

Alraphus Jackson joined the program in November and has nearly completed his work. He realized that without additional education and career training, he wouldn’t be able to advance in a career. “It was time for a change, I couldn’t be the same person I was,” Jackson said. “I have to get my GED so I can make it far in life. I can’t get into college without my GED and I needed to get into college.” Jackson said he intends to continue schooling for welding after completing the program.

Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies President Phyllis Bandstra said the program is about helping those with a troubled background and working to make them more positive members of society as they become older adults. “It opens a pathway for young people who have dropped out of school or for other reasons have not been able to move forward and it allows them to make the decision to be responsible adults,” Bandstra said. “That means those are kids who’ve gone onto post-secondary who have gone onto careers.”

Youthbuild began in Johnstown in 2007 and is approaching having 150 students complete the program. A youth is eligible for the program if he or she meets requirements such as having a criminal background or past arrest, has a disability, has an incarcerated parent, is aging out of foster care, is a migrant farm worker or meets low-income housing requirements or is homeless.

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