By Clive McFarlane TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
Worcester YouthBuild participants and the program's director, Michael Quigley, have a basic and successful economic formula by which they swear.
Skills plus opportunities to put those skills to work, they will tell you, most always add up to personal financial growth that can multiply a community's economic development potential.
They should know.
YouthBuild, through a longstanding partnership with St. Gobain, has for years provided low-income high school dropouts with the skills they need to solve the equation of a prosperous life. Through the program, these young people, 16- to 24-year-olds, participate in hands-on, construction skills training by building low-income housing in the community. The hands-on training is complemented with GED preparation, job readiness and leadership training.
"We have young people getting their high school equivalency certificates and building low-income housing in Worcester and the hope is when they leave here we will be able to place them in college or into a job," Mr. Quigley said.
"Last year, 60 percent ended up going to college. This year's group is different. Most will be looking for jobs."
Mr. Quigley is optimistic more than ever now that the city is better positioned for providing the job opportunities these young people will be seeking in the community. Much of that optimism is being underpinned by the Worcester City Council's continued commitment to policies that can potentially produce positive, palpable and immediate economic stimulus in the community.
The council reinforced that commitment this week, when it voted to approve the sale of the old courthouse building to Brady Sullivan Properties LLC for $1.2 million. As part of the deal, the company agreed to set aside 50 percent of the project's budget to hire contractors and subcontractors from the local community.