Creating experiences with lasting benefits for teens

Guest Column: Lee Lewis
School is out and summer jobs are in. But are they? More

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Creating experiences with lasting benefits for teens

Guest Column: Lee Lewis
Posted 7/2/12

School is out and summer jobs are in. But are they?

Unfortunately, the job market for teens has nearly evaporated in the past decade. Once a time to get work experience and extra cash, teens manned cash registers and mowed lawns during summer break. Today, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than three in 10 American teenagers are able to find summer jobs.

But summer jobs are not simply about earning money for gas, concerts or cellphones. Jobs for teens, whether in the summer or year-round, provide our young adults with tremendous opportunities to learn about the working world, prepare for their future careers, and get ahead of their peers who spend their time hanging with friends during summer break.

As business owners, managers and employees, we all have the responsibility to help provide our future workforce with the opportunity to get that experience. Whether it is a summer job, part-time after-school job, internship or job shadow, these experiences can teach our young adults about accountability, respect, time management, a good work ethic, specific areas such as journalism or running a business, and most importantly, responsibility.

At Junior Achievement, our programs help students make informed, intelligent decisions about their futures and foster skills that will be impactful in the working world. Annually, our network of corporate and community volunteers deliver Junior Achievement programs to more than 10,400 students in 662 classrooms in Rhode Island, during the school day and in after-school settings. The comprehensive curriculum, developed in partnership with education experts, reinforces and supplements classroom activities.

We can help connect you with high schools that participate in our workforce readiness programs and are ready for real-life work experiences. We can also help you set up a job shadow or internship program.

Our challenge to businesses – large or small – is to consider summer programs for teens. Join Junior Achievement in our efforts to empower and equip the next generation with the confidence and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy and workforce. Whether it be a fully developed internship summer program, or a two-week job shadow, it’s important for us as role models and leaders to take the next step in our investment of the future workforce.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our future generation by helping them get a jumpstart on tomorrow, today. •

Lee Lewis is president of Junior Achievement of Rhode Island.

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