Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Area Youth Gain Awareness of Financial Services Careers and Personal Finances

To most young people terms such as "fixed term loan" or "trade lines" may sound like foreign language. This is not the case for the 15 west central Wisconsin youth who recently completed the Workforce Resource, Inc. (WRI) Financial Services Career Academy. These young people now understand such terms. They can also better manage their own personal finances, identify career opportunities and comprehend the expectations of employers in the financial services industry.

The Workforce Resource Financial Services Career Academy debuted this summer, joining other Career Academy offerings including manufacturing, healthcare, green jobs, bio-tech and agribusiness. These Career Academies are part of the Summer Work Education and Training program for youth operated by Workforce Resource. WRI operates this and other workforce programs on behalf of the West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board.

Over a period of six days these young people were able to benefit from the experience and knowledge of financial services professionals Maltee McMahon and Mark Kalscheur from Bremer Bank, Jake Kuester from WESTconsin Credit Union, Betty Laskowski and Mary Ginder from RCU. These volunteers provided insights into the workings of their industry, the career opportunities available, the skills required, as well as the education, training and career pathways available to those interested in the field.

Considerable time was also devoted to training participants in the essential elements of personal financial management. Personal finance is an integral component of the Summer Work Education and Training Program, and made a perfect match for inclusion into the Financial Services Career Academy. Coupled with the Summer Youth program traditional focus on building work readiness through paid work experience, the Financial Literacy component recognizes that, in today's world, managing one's money is nearly as important as earning it.

Volunteer instructor Mark Kalscheur, Sales Manager for Bremer Bank in Menomonie, noted, "Over the years I have seen too many young adults ruin their financial future due to not understanding what they were getting involved in or not understanding the importance of paying their bills on time." Kalscheur believes financial literacy is a benefit for other aspects of a person's life. "Financial stress can cause problems in a household and especially in a relationship." Kalscheur says, "Taking advantage and understanding financial opportunities can help elevate this stress."

Maltee McMahon, Bremer Nonprofit Resource Specialist and Workforce Development Board member, noted "It is a great way for the bank to continue to support nonprofits locally. As a Workforce Development Board member, this is my way of supporting what the organization does." McMahon added, "We talked about goals and thinking big. I hope they learned that their goals are achievable and it's OK to think big and be innovative."

In addition to the information provided by these professionals through applied learning classroom activities, the young people got to observe activities in the local finance industry first-hand with a tour of WESTconsin Credit Union in Menomonie. Another highlight of the program came through a tour of the Bremer Bank Corporate headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., followed by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, which provides comprehensive services to financial institutions throughout its five-state region. Through these activities, the participants observed a wide range of financial service activities and occupations. They completed applications for financial services positions through the local institutions and were informed of the skills requirements for many of these positions as well as the expectations these employers have for individuals considered for jobs in the financial services industry.

Grants to support the Financial Academy came from the Otto Bremer Foundation, the Community Foundation of Dunn County and annual funding from the Federal Workforce Investment Act.

For more information about the Youth Career Venture Academy, contact the local Workforce Resource Office (located in area Job Centers) at 1-800-472-5522 or

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