Guest Column: Young people need first jobs, internships to get their footing in real world of work

2013-04-22T00:00:00Z Guest Column: Young people need first jobs, internships to get their footing in real world of workJonathan Rothschild Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

For the third in my four-part series on poverty in Tucson I'd like to talk about jobs - specifically, summer jobs for youth.

I am asking Tucson-area employers to consider making room in their organizations for youth as summer hires or interns.

Summer or after-school jobs are how most of us enter the workforce. Without access to one or the other -or an internship - getting that first permanent job can be much tougher. And the effects of youth unemployment can last for years, in persistently lower wages.

Young people - all people - need soft skills, job skills and experience to succeed in the workplace. A summer or after-school job can be the first step. Even if your organization can't justify a part-time or temporary hire, you probably can find room for an internship.

Ever since the recession, youth unemployment has been disproportionately high. Today, the unemployment rate among teens stands at 24.2 percent, down from a 2010 high of 27.2 percent. For youth ages 20 to 24, the numbers are better, at 13.3 percent, but still well above the national average of 7.6 percent.

I'm working with the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to ask employers to participate in the 2nd Annual Youth Job & Career Fair this June. The event, put on by Pima OneStop and the United Way of Greater Tucson, offers youth age 16 to 24 resume workshops, online job banks, career counseling and, most importantly, an opportunity to interview with actual employers.

Employers who can't be there in person can still help by listing their job or internship in one of the online job banks.

With the right tags in place, those postings will show up in the U.S. Department of Labor's Summer Jobs+ Bank, at dol.gov/summerjobs online.

There, employers can learn how to tag jobs and internships posted on other sites so they automatically get added to the Summer Jobs+ Bank. Employers can also find information on conducting workshops, job shadowing programs and internships.

The Summer Jobs+ Bank has good information on best practices in hiring and mentoring youth, but it's far more important for youth to gain experience in a real-life workplace than it is for everything to be perfect. In the real world, jobs seldom are.

The Mayor's Office makes extensive use of interns. We don't have the staffing to allow for much mentoring, so it's strictly on-the-job training. But that's OK. Our interns still gain from the experience. Our office does, too.

You never forget your first job. I was very lucky with mine. While still in high school, I reported on high school sports for the Arizona Daily Star. I was already a sports nut, so I can't say it developed that interest. But I did have to get to games on time, pay attention to what was going on around me, think through what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Those are skills I still use to this day.

Employers interested in reserving a spot at the June 6 Youth Job & Career Fair should contact Cholpon Rosengren, crosengren@unitedwaytucson.org no later than May 15.

Jonathan Rothschild is mayor of Tucson. Contact him at mayor1@tucsonaz.gov

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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