Newt Gingrich wanted to create jobs by putting a mop in the hand of every poor kid in school and fire all the janitors; I wonder what he would say about this story and the reality of the dwindling employment opportunities for teenagers?
Even as the economy slowly picks up, finding a job is harder than ever for teenagers, according to a national study released on Tuesday. That’s likely because the jobs that are being “created” in recent months are being snapped up by adults—often people over age 50 who were laid off from other positions or forced out of retirement during the economic crisis.
This trend is nothing new. Back in 2006, when Barbara Ehrenreich published Bait and Switch she highlighted the story of a female executive who was laid off and found her self working at a big box store. So yes, the downward push on the labor market is affecting teenagers and their employment opportunities.
Ironically, the growing dearth of employment opportunities for youth—particularly low-income and minority youth—has come just as families most need that extra income, and as the experience the jobs provide is more important than ever for youth to get a leg up in an increasingly competitive labor market.
Even with what was mentioned above, I would say that if you can afford to not work and instead focus on your education that would be the way to go. Like many parents of teenage students would say “you can have a job so long as your studies aren’t affected.” Even in this horrible labor market I think education is more important than ever. Think of what kind of employment opportunities a teenager would have anyway—it would mostly be in the service sector. What kind of leg up is there to have from starting in those jobs early?
As a former boss of mine in retail once said “retail is for the ones who didn’t make it.” I remembered that and fought my way out of it going to college (it was a business school) at night-time for my Associate’s Degree in Multimedia Development and Management. I’m not finished with my education; I’m in debt but I do plan to go back! In the meantime I take the self-taught route via technology books. I’m also a voracious reader in general.
This story also reminds me of the news that some schools in Detroit will begin to offer classes on how to work at Wal-Mart. Now I don’t care what anyone says, retail jobs are not rocket science; so why they are wasting valuable class time teaching this as a subject is beyond me.
I understand that this is Detroit and that the unemployment rate is at 50 percent in the city, so any employment opportunities would be welcome, but this action reeks of hopelessness. Is the best a student in Detroit can hope to become is a Wal-Mart employee? We know about social mobility in this country, so don’t give me the argument that this can be viewed as an opportunity for advancement. A real opportunity would be helping these kids get a shot at college.