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$1.1 Million Announced For Teen Summer STEM Jobs

Local leaders announced $1.1 million in STEM funding for paid internships benefiting low-income, at-risk youth at a meeting Downtown on Thursday.

The 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board will manage the pilot in partnership with city and county officials through the Learn and Earn program set up earlier this year. 

Kathy Manderino, secretary of the state Department of Labor and Industry, outlined the program thus far. Designed to place young people into 2,000 career-prepping jobs, it has attracted far more applicants than open positions, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. 

The program will give invaluable experience to otherwise idle, summertime youth, Fitzgerald said. Mayor Bill Peduto said that professional leg-up should help when they start looking for full-time employment.

“We’re going to take local kids and give them the opportunity to be a part of it and to take a step further than kids from around the country by giving them real job experience into what is growing into a very large industry,” Peduto said.

Some of the initiatives include website production, robotics, digital manufacturing and video game production.

CEO Jessica Trybus of Simcoach Games, which makes video games for behavior change, said her company will employ 25 interns this summer tasked with designing a game that addresses job-seeking skills.

“When we’re done this summer, we’ll have video games on professional skills," Trybus said. "Soft skills around time management and interviewing skills that they helped to drive and that are really, really good solutions for other folks and other peers of theirs.”

The program begins this summer and expands through the summer of 2016. A comparable program was funded for Philadelphia.