WORCESTER, Mass. - Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll made a stop in Worcester Monday for the Worcester Community Action Council's "YouthWorks" program kickoff.

"It's such an opportunity to make sure our young folks are getting that workforce skills," Driscoll said. "For many young folks, it's their first job, an opportunity to support our local economies as just about everyone's looking for work. It's a real win-win."

What You Need To Know

  • the Healey-Driscoll administration awarded $34 million to hire over 7,600 youth for employment opportunities

  • In Worcester, the YouthWorks program helps provide work experience and soft skills training for teens and young adults

  • Worcester and Hampden Counties both received more than $4,000,000. The Berkshires are set to receive more than $640,000

  • The grants will fund paid, short-term work placements throughout the year at public, private and nonprofit work sites

The program will put more than 500 local teens and young adults to work this summer in fields like communications, health care and manufacturing, among many others.

"Making sure that young people have the opportunity to not only gain exposure in the classroom, but also outside the classroom is so important for their learning, and investing in our future talent," said Lauren Jones, the state's Labor and Workforce Development Secretary.

Driscoll announced the administration, in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, will be awarding $34 million to hire more than 7,600 youth across the state. 

Jones said youth employment took a significant hit during the pandemic, and programs like YouthWorks are crucial for the next generation.

"It also gives young people the exposure of financial management, the opportunity to understand what it's like to wake up in the morning and go to work, and be responsible," Jones said.

It's broken down into 16 regions: The Berkshires is slated for more than $600,000, Hampden County will receive more than $4 million, and central Massachusetts is in line for more than $4.5 million.

Driscoll said experience isn't the only goal of the program. Her hope is the money earned by these youth workers work their way back into the economy.

"Teenagers are going to want to be able to utilize their dollars in ways that are going to benefit the local economy," Driscoll said. "This is an opportunity to make sure they're working, learning some productive skills and then contributing back into wherever they might live."