Preparing Youth For The Future

The Niagara Falls Housing Authority’s SUNY ATTAIN Lab was highlighted by the Niagara Gazette last week. The article, as it was published in the April 9th, 2015 edition of the Niagara Gazette, can be found in its entirety below:

NFHA hosts job training session – Philip Gambini
Seminar: Employment expert helps area teens improve their resumes, interviewing skills.

It may be spring recess for Niagara Falls High School, but it’s not all a break for Daevion Parmer, whose parents roused him early Wednesday to attend the Niagara Falls Housing Authority and SUNY Buffalo’s ATTAIN Lab job skills seminar.

But he didn’t begrudge the opportunity, he was attentive and inquisitive through the event.

“The more skills I can use to better my chances to get a job is an advantage to me in whatever field I chose,” Parmer said.

For leaders of the event, including Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed, D-Niagara Falls, and Antoniette Polito, ATTAIN case manager for the NFHA, such family encouragement is an essential component of teaching young people confidence in an increasingly competitive modern job market. Steed is new to the initiative but said, in his meetings with teenagers in the city, interviewing skills are among their most persistent questions.

“It’s a big, big challenge to get people out and involved in these things, to get parents to encourage,” he said.

Polito was joined by Niagara County Employment and Youth Training instructor Kathy Noakes. The duo spoke about the importance of crafting a concise, readable resume, the conduct an employer expects during an interview and the appropriate dress for those being interviewed.

Noakes said he department also suffers from weak enrollment numbers. She counts it as one of the biggest challenges she faces in her work. She said that local school districts could help in this effort if leaders decided to bring the instruction to classrooms to integrate the learning at a younger age, such as what is done with home economics courses.

“People forget the confidence, the wherewithal it takes to present yourself and apply for a job,” Noakes said. “That’s a scary thing, it takes practice.”

Polito, too, felt confidence is a key to guiding young people towards adulthood. The programs she operates are free, so as not to exclude low-income residents. In overseeing them, Polito said, she wants people to walk away with a lesson in adaptability, ways to excel in the many different environments life presents.

“Our goal is to bring people to self-sufficiency through education,” she said.