Diane Powell, center, poses for a photo with Tyler Bobbit, left, and Krys Phillips, right, both from Detroit. Since 2013, Powell has been working to help find jobs for teens in the area.

Diane Powell, center, poses for a photo with Tyler Bobbit, left, and Krys Phillips, right, both from Detroit. Since 2013, Powell has been working to help find jobs for teens in the area.

Photo by Jacob Herbert

Local groups work to employ teens

Local woman connects teens with jobs

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published July 15, 2021


OAKLAND COUNTY — In May, Oakland County Michigan Works! launched its Oakland NEXT Summer Young Professionals program. The purpose of the program was to connect teens and young adults ages 16-24 with internships, paid work experiences and other no-cost services to help launch their careers.

“We do it very individualized to where there’s not one specific job that they’re all going into,” said Program Director Brooklyn Frontiera. “So the participant will come in and either go through a short-term training program if they’re looking to gain a credential or they can enter into a work experience. We have six different offices around Oakland County, and each one of our offices have different employers that they have relationships with, so it really is based on their location and what career path they’re looking for.”

When filling out the application for the program, teens are asked if there are any specific fields they are interested in entering and whether they’re looking for an internship, training and more.

Participants are put through a soft skills training program. There they take courses on resume building, interviewing, how to read a paycheck, how to do taxes and other things related to employment.

Frontiera said the program prioritizes individuals who have barriers between them and employment, such as those from low-income families, those with disabilities, youth who are pregnant or parenting, and youth who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school.

“We did a lot of research, and we do know that in Oakland County alone that there’s 136,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 that are participating in the workforce, and 9,470 are unemployed,” she said.

As a way to help Oakland County teens and young adults, the program has partnered with several institutions, including MedCerts, an online career training school pioneering the way students learn and employers hire. The school needed help desk administrators, and the Michigan Works! team put together a flyer explaining that the school needed help and the amount of money that could be made.

The program also has connections with truck driving schools in the area and Oakland Community College’s programmable logic controller robotics program, whose curriculum is designed to prepare individuals for a career in advanced manufacturing.

“We want to make sure they’re being led down a career path that’s going to help them be self-sufficient and self-maintaining in the real world,” Frontiera said. “There’s a lot of job opportunities that they don’t even know exist, and it’s not until they visit a Michigan Works! agency that they can discover what’s available to them. We really want to make sure that for Oakland County, that we’re monopolizing the jobs and careers that are of the greatest needs right now so we can build up our workforce and make it sustainable.”

To apply for the Oakland NEXT Summer Young Professionals Program, visit www.oakgov.com/workforce/youth or contact the Southfield Michigan Works! office at (248) 796-4580.

Farmington Hills resident Diane Powell knows a thing or two about working to employ teens. Back in 2013, Powell said, she started looking for jobs for her son to keep him busy when he was 14.

“I saw all these kids sitting around in Farmington Hills playing video games or playing on their phones,” she said. “I was so curious as to why these kids weren’t doing anything over the summer. I started wondering what I could do to help these kids.”

From there, Powell started Miss Diane’s Teens of Farmington, Farmington Hills and Southfield. In the past she has helped kids around town get jobs in the community working on residents’ houses — painting or working in the yard. The residents paid the kids for their work.

Powell said some of the challenges around getting teens jobs include transportation to get kids to their jobs and getting her name out there to get teens job opportunities. Other challenges include making sure kids are safe at their job. Powell said she went and talked with employers before sending her kids there.

When it comes to landing a job, Powell was able to offer some advice.

“They must care about their outer appearance, because first impressions are the most important thing,” she said. “They also must speak well and give up their phones. When they go to a job, it’s not about them entertaining their friends. It’s about them doing the work for their employer.”

Those interested in working with Powell can contact her at (248) 636-5530.