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Malcolm Jennings, 14, and 15-year-old Devan Drayton (background) sort through mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office. Both are working full-time jobs as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program.

Malcolm Jennings, 14, and 15-year-old Devan Drayton (background) sort through mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office. Both are working full-time jobs as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Malcolm Jennings, 14, and 15-year-old Devan Drayton (background) sort through mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office. Both are working full-time jobs as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program.

Malcolm Jennings, 14, and 15-year-old Devan Drayton (background) sort through mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office. Both are working full-time jobs as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Jacob Dybdahl, 16, right, and Kyle Beissner, 15, bring in a recently rented out kayak back into RAF Mildenhall's Outdoor Recreation Center.

Jacob Dybdahl, 16, right, and Kyle Beissner, 15, bring in a recently rented out kayak back into RAF Mildenhall's Outdoor Recreation Center. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Anthony Combs, 17, prepares a bag of outgoing mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office last week. Combs is working a full-time job at the post office as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program.

Anthony Combs, 17, prepares a bag of outgoing mail inside RAF Mildenhall's Post Office last week. Combs is working a full-time job at the post office as part of the U.K.-wide Summer Hire program. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL — Nearly 150 youths at U.S. air bases across the United Kingdom are finding out how the real world works as part of this year’s Air Force-run Summer Hire program.

The four-week program began July 9 and is tailored to provide base organizations with much-needed labor, as well as give dependents from 14 to 23 years old job knowledge and extra cash.

Trevor Flatt, coordinator of RAF Mildenhall’s program, said the reason behind hiring youth isn’t just to get them off the street.

“Now it’s a little more geared to students that want a bit of money and work experience,” he said. “Overall, it’s beneficial to both sides.”

There are two categories that the full-time jobs fall under — clerical and laboring. In clerical, youths handle office paperwork. Laboring jobs involve working at the post office, Outdoor Recreation Center and the recycling center, among other facilities that need help, Flatt said.

The lack of base funds reduced the number of youth workers this summer, compared to a couple of years ago, Flatt said.

“We don’t push the program as hard as we used to,” he said. The program that has been in existence for more than 30 years.

Also, the pay has remained $5.14 an hour for at least five years, he said.

“It’s not great. [Still,] they’re going to end up with about $900 at the end of the day, which is great for a 14- or 15-year-old,” he said.

Anthony Combs, 17, is working at Mildenhall’s post office for a second straight summer.

“It’s a great program. I like it. The money is great and so is the satisfaction of something to do in the summer,” said Combs, who added that it’s a good way to stay out of trouble.

Combs, who was busy bagging outgoing mail, also liked the idea of learning a job he might pursue in the future.

“I don’t know if I’m going to go to college. I’ll probably work at a post office in the States,” he said.

Inspecting equipment at Mildenhall’s Outdoor Recreation Center last week was 15-year-old Kyle Beissner, who joined because he needed something to do in the summer.

“It does give you valuable work experience because you talk to people and find out what they need,” he said.

The program can even provide youths some insight on what type of career they might want.

“It gives them an idea of where they want to work and where they don’t want to work,” Flatt said.


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