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APSU partners with Workforce Essentials on Summer Youth Employment Program

A student worker helps with a composting project at APSU's Community Engagement and Sustainability department.
Student worker Leslie Warren helps Alexandra Wills, APSU's director of Community Engagement and Sustainability, with a composting project in 2017.

(Posted on Thursday, May 25, 2023)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay State University (APSU) is partnering with Workforce Essentials, the American Job Center and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to empower student workers through an extensive new summer employment program. 

Starting July 1, all Tennessee residents ages 14-24 will be eligible for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which has allocated $15 million to participating employers across the state.

APSU’s current and potential student workers are encouraged to get involved, and they can earn up to $3,200 over six weeks while gaining practical experience. Participants will be paid every two weeks through Workforce Essentials, so the program comes at no cost to the University.

“This is effectively an opportunity to offer paid internships where they wouldn’t otherwise be available, and it could be for any department on campus,” said Jeff Walton, Austin Peay’s director of the Professional and Workforce Development Center (formerly Continuing Education). “For example, if the chemistry department needed to do a research project, they could hire graduate students for the summer at $16 an hour for 25 hours a week to complete the work.”

Walton said each department is responsible for advertising and hiring student workers, and they can contact him about having those positions funded through SYEP.

“If the biology department comes to me and says they have a student worker they want to get funded through the program, then they can send that student worker to me, and I’ll get them signed up,” he said. “I can put them in touch with Workforce Essentials to fill out their forms and paperwork … and they’ll have a timesheet they have to fill out with Workforce Essentials, but they’ll report to campus for their job.”

From there, each participant’s department will be responsible for providing supervision and safety training while assigning their work.

“Normally, any department that has a student worker over the summer would pay them out of their own budget,” Walton said. “But now they can pay out of [SYEP] and save their budget for other uses – that’s big savings for Austin Peay.”

Students do not have to be from Clarksville to take on SYEP-funded job opportunities at Austin Peay, and Walton said residents of nearby counties are welcome to participate. The only requirement is a Tennessee driver’s license or Tennessee state-issued ID.

“We want to encourage APSU students from outlying and rural counties to be involved,” Walton said. “The overall goal of this program is to give the youth [across] Tennessee an opportunity to get some real-world work experience, and if we can make sure the program is well-utilized in this area, they’ll be able to do it every summer.”

For more information about Austin Peay’s role in the SYEP, contact Walton at 931-221-1030 or waltonj@apsu.edu. To learn more about the SYEP, visit the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.