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When the 93 graduates of Lifespan’s 2012 Summer Youth Employment Program went onstage to receive their certificates on Aug. 17 at the Gerry House on the Rhode Island Hospital campus, there were almost double that number of family, friends and mentors in the audience, cheering on their accomplishment.
More than just a celebration, the event marked the entrance of young people through an all too often hard-to-open door: the job market, with training and skills for a potential a career in the health care sector.
“We have the responsibility to invest in young people as the future workforce,” said Alexis Devine, the Youth Development Coordinator with Lifespan Workforce Development, who has been coordinating the summer program since 2004. “The program is an eight-week job interview. There are not many opportunities for employment right now, so we really want to teach what the employer is looking for. There are a lot of fundamental expectations that they have to meet,” she said.
Devine praised the leadership of Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest private employer, with a workforce of more than 12,000, for investing in the program. “We are very fortunate at Lifespan. Our leadership and our colleagues share the same beliefs [about the importance of investing in opportunities for young people],” she said. “I’ve watched these jobs change lives dramatically.”
Over the last eight years, more than 100 graduates of the programs have been hired within the Lifespan hospital network, which includes Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital.
One of the newest hires from the 2012 Summer Youth Employment program is Gianny Munoz, who just turned 20. He is now working as a per-diem employee in the Patient Transport Department at Rhode Island Hospital. “It’s hands on. I get to see patients, it’s very communicative,” he said, describing his job helping to transport patients. “I get to go all around the hospital.”