PARKERSBURG -Heading into the summer months, many teenagers are looking for summertime employment to earn a little money and gain valuable work experience.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the nation continues to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.
Around 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed last July, the month when youth employment usually peaks, the Labor Bureau reported. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.
Youth worked this past summer at the Jackson County Board of Education office through the Summer Youth Program offered by the Workforce West Virginia Investment Board. The youth worked doing office work, painting, cleaning, cutting grass, refurbishing public facilities and more at city parks, county parks, boards of education and elsewhere. (Photo Provided)
A pickup in hiring is expected heading into the summer months this year, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com.
The online career site's annual Summer Job Forecast shows that 29 percent of employers plan to hire workers for the summer, an increase over last year's 21 percent.
"This is good news for job seekers, as seasonal work can often lead to full-time opportunities," said Brett Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, in a statement. "A majority of employers told us they consider a summer position an extended job interview."
According to CareerBuilder, the sectors that showed the strongest hiring trends were in manufacturing, hospitality, retail and finance.
In addition, the survey revealed that 71 percent of employers said they'll be considering some summer hires for permanent positions.
A majority of the employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they are paying summer employees $10 or more an hour while 20 percent said they will pay more than $16 per hour.
"While employers remain watchful of the U.S. economy, the debt situation in Europe and other factors, they're focused on growing their businesses and need new talent in the door," Rasmussen said.
Workforce West Virginia reported from June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012, its office handled a number of referrals of young people, age 16-22, to employers throughout the state.
The top number of referrals was for cashier positions with 772 referrals.
The other top referrals were for "laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand" with 656; construction laborers with 632; maids and housekeeping cleaners with 427; retail salespersons with 422; security guards with 406; production workers with 397; production worker helpers with 388; home health aides with 362; extraction workers with 358; customer service representatives 336; janitors and cleaners with 326; and food services with 280.
Other referrals were made for tellers, meat cutters, landscaping/grounds workers, office workers, telemarketers, stock clerks and more.
In the Parkersburg area, jobs in retail and food service remain in demand, according to job search websites. Youth have also traditionally been able to find work in a variety of fields locally when companies and organizations are hiring.
Professional Pool Management, which hires the lifeguards and concession workers for the pools at the Parkersburg parks, Jackson Park in Vienna, Williamstown, Beverly and the Marietta Aquatics Center, has around 140 people working this summer, with the average age of 16-18.
Mike Bishman, manager of Professional Pool Management, said they regularly look for people with good people skills, outgoing and who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and work.
"We are teaching them a work ethic," he said. "For many of them, this is the first job they have ever had."
Professional Pool Management wants to show what a job is and the importance of being prepared to do that job.
"They have lives at stake," Bishman said.
Employees have in-service training to make sure they are ready, he said, adding the training also refreshes the skills of those coming back for another season.
Another benefit is their employees are outside throughout the season, Bishman said.
"They are not inside all summer, they get out around people and they can get a tan ... that is a perk," he said.
The Workforce Investment Board Mid-Ohio Valley's Summer Youth Program is expecting about 80 Youth Advantage participants this summer to work across the nine counties the board serves, including Calhoun, Clay, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood counties, said Program Director Joyce R. Okes.
The participants, ages 16-21, may work about eight weeks at general labor type occupations, food service, data entry/office occupations, janitorial, and child care.
"We have not finalized the work sites yet," Okes said. "Some will be working with private employers while others will be working at schools, towns, parks and so on.
"Numbers in each county will vary but there will probably be a maximum of 15 in any one county. Ideally, youth will be placed in occupations that are in line with their career goals."
The participants in this program gain valuable work experience. The youth came out with learning experiences where they learned how to get along and work with others as well as the responsibility employment brings with it.
"All youth will be gaining life and work skills that will be able to be used in future employment opportunities," Okes said.