OC Launches New Program to Encourage Young Entrepreneurs

August 25, 2020 Updated: August 25, 2020

Orange County, California, officials announced a new “Earn and Learn” program on Aug. 24 designed to provide business and life skills to aspiring youth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Earn and Learn” will offer youth ages 14-21 the opportunity to earn wages for taking part in financial literacy, leadership development, and occupational skills training activities that will prepare them for a successful adjustment to adulthood, according to an Aug. 24 press release.

The activities will provide young adults with valuable insight and tools for making the transition to unsubsidized employment, military life, post-secondary education, trade placement, and apprenticeship programs. The goal is to increase long-term opportunities for employment and self-sufficiency.

Orange County Public Information Officer Mechelle Haines told The Epoch Times in an email that the program was “launched to provide youth the opportunity to earn wages while learning workforce skills for the future.”

The skills learned will lead participants toward financial stability, she said.

Young adults signed on to the free program will have access to a 10-week online Entrepreneurship Academy. The courses will be conducted by live instructors with expertise in professional business, who will mentor students and help them transform a skill or idea into a successful venture.

By the time they graduate from the program, students will have a business plan, prototype, and venture pitch.

“Students will be paid for participating in occupational skills training and study time. Students will be paid three hours per week for a 10-week period,” Haines said.

Enrolled students will be able to earn up to $13 an hour for their class and study time. Student’s hours will be logged for class via a virtual platform that will keep track of their training hours on a time card.

The program was supported by the entire Orange County Board of Supervisors.

“This program allows the County to help the next generation of entrepreneurs anticipate and learn the skills needed to succeed in the years to come,” said Supervisor Donald Wagner.

Chairwoman Michelle Steel said that COVID-19 had “presented a special struggle for Orange County’s youth trying to find relevant work experience and navigating their future career paths. The ‘Earn and Learn’ program will provide youth the opportunity to earn wages while learning modern-day workforce skills to prepare them for the future.”

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the program will provide significant opportunities to youth in underserved communities. Minorities and youth with disabilities were encouraged to sign up.

“The youth is our future, and this program is an example of how the County is investing in it,” Bartlett said.

Vice Chairman Andrew Do said the program “is designed to equip youth participants with the proper workforce development training to successfully transition into adulthood.”

Enrollment will be based on a quarterly first-come, first-served basis. In order to sign up, eligible students must be registered in the “Ready S.E.T. OC” Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program.

The “Earn and Learn” academy begins on Aug. 31.