Tis the season: Summer jobs sought for youth

Suzie Miller
Suzie Miller
Diane Schwenke
Diane Schwenke

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Suzie Miller promotes summer employment for the benefits businesses derive not only from their young seasonal workers, but also from what’s over time a better trained work force.

Youth bring to summer jobs enthusiasm along with what’s typically an ability to learn quickly and familiarity with computers, Miller said. At the same time, they develop work habits and gain experience in providing customer service and working with others.

“It’s really important to have people in the community who are willing to help youth to gain those skills,” said Miller, business services manager at the Mesa County Workforce Center.

That’s why the center works with youth and employers as well as other groups in making good matches for summer jobs, she said.

The center will participate in a free summer youth options fair along with the Mesa County Business Education Foundation, a group created by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

The fair is set for 4 to 6:30 p.m. April 9 at Grand Mesa Middle School, 583 31 1/2 Road. While the fair will offer information about summer camps and educational programs, employers hiring youth for summer jobs also will participate. Some of the businesses and organizations at the fair will offer both programs and jobs, said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction chamber. “We’re finding quite a bit of interest.”

At the Mesa County Workforce Center, a youth employment specialist works year around conducting career workshops and providing assistance on an individual basis with job searches, resumes and interview preparation, Miller said.

The center is among the employment offices statewide that provide free services through a program called the Governor’s Summer Job Hunt. Last summer, the program helped almost 38,000 teen-agers and young adults aged 14 to 21. Since its inception in 1981, the program has assisted more than 1 million teens and young adults.

“At these offices, employment counselors do more than simply connect teens with job openings. They make sure they’re ready, helping them to recognize the relationships between education and the skills required for success on the job,” said Ellen Golombek, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the agency that administers the summer job hunt program.

A new Web site for the program at www.colorado.gov.gsjh offers employers information about available services and an online venue to post openings for summer jobs. The Web Site offers job hunters tips on resumes and interviews and making the most of their employment experiences.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said employers make the program work by hiring youth for summer jobs. “A part-time job provides valuable training to students, preparing them for the challenges they will face in the years ahead.”

The chamber is involved in other efforts to promote youth employment and workforce development.

Nearly 30 students at Central High School participated in a pilot program called “Hire Me First” that combined lectures, skills testing and time spent in the workplace to help students to explore and prepare for jobs. Schwenke said there are plans to offer the program after school so more students can participate.

The various efforts come as prospects for summer hiring improve, Miller and Schwenke said. The outlook is especially encouraging for jobs in the hospitality sector and other businesses that serve tourists. “I’m a little more optimistic than I would have been a year ago,” Schwenke said.

In a broader sense, though, summer jobs for youth help address a common concern among employers that many job applicants don’t have the necessary work habits or skills to succeed in the workplace, Miller and Schwenke said.

“It’s an opportunity for the community to come together to develop skills,” Miller said.

For additional information about youth employment resources at the Mesa County Workforce Center, call Tim Brown at 256-2465.