Teenagers looking for work don't always have an easy time of finding hiring businesses.

Teenagers looking for work don’t always have an easy time of finding hiring businesses.

It’s March, and for many teenagers this means two things: college admissions decisions start flooding the inbox, and summer work is just on the horizon. For many, these two things are not mutually exclusive. There are many students in Sacramento who have to work to pay for their higher education. But how are they supposed to find work when Sacramento’s youth job market is so unwelcoming? According to Darrel Smith at the Sacramento Bee, “Four in 10 area teens were working in 2000, but just 21 percent were employed in 2012. Two-thirds of those 20 to 24 were employed in 2000. That number dropped to about 55 percent in 2012.”

Travis Davin, a teenager from Sacramento, is one of the lucky ones to have found a job. He currently works at a local confection store making truffles.

“I got this job through my Boy Scouts troop,” he explains. “Most times, the only jobs available for teens are rat jobs and scab jobs. Rat jobs are jobs from a random person that you know and get paid for doing stuff- like moving a house. A scab job is where you are hired by a company because the people that they have fired originally are on strike.” Looking for youth-oriented jobs online leads to some startling results.
In order to cast a wide net of possibilities, teenagers often look online for work. Some websites, like snagajob.com or even yelp.com, have special search engines specifically for teens to discuss job openings and the quality of those jobs. However, after entering Sacramento teen jobs into one of these websites, the search engine returned only three results- some located as far as Benicia, about 60 miles away. In addition, the quality of these jobs were very low. Many were limited to the fast-food service industry, a profession that doesn’t offer much experience for those looking to gain skills applicable to the office workforce.

Criticisms of the youth job market have been that few people connect teenagers with businesses looking to hire. Part of the reason Davin was able to locate work was because of his Boy Scouts leaders, who help their troop members find jobs in the area. Other issues with jobs available to teenagers is that they do not provide any marketable skills. Businesses are not very creative about how they can engage youth in their workforce. At the same time, young workers do not have any experience writing resumes or advertising their abilities. For example, many teenagers would make excellent marketing and web designers. Their ability to use social networking sites and blogging forums could be very useful to an array of business types. It is important for many companies to engage youth in the workplace. Not only are they future employees, but teens also represent one of the biggest consumer niches. In 2012, teenagers in the United States spent a total of $208.7 billion even though the average income of 12-17 year olds was only $3,095 per year. A company that hires local youth could benefit enormously.
Ultimately, investing in teenagers is an investment in the community. Work experience at a young age improves a teen’s chances of finding a job later in life, but most importantly, the extra income can go a long way for many Sacramento families.