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Teenagers take more jobs as employers seek help | Local News

Mankato East High School junior John Calsbeek didn’t need much encouragement to seek his first job a year ago at Hy-Vee on Adams Street.

Calsbeek is just one of the teenagers coming to the rescue of business owners struggling to find enough workers in one of the hottest job markets in decades.

“I do a bit of everything,” Calsbeek said. “I’m mostly a cashier, but sometimes I do carts, bagging, stocking, taking out the bins, backtracking, and doing a bit of cleaning.”

Teenagers are now working in greater numbers than before the 2008-2009 financial crisis, when summer and part-time jobs were a more common rite of passage into adulthood, reports the Wall Street Journal. They have become particularly essential in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, which many adults have abandoned during the pandemic.

Unemployment among workers aged 16 to 19 was 10.2% in April, just below the 9.6% low in 68 years it reached in May last year, according to the Journal, which cites figures published by the Bureau of Labor. and statistics. Overall, about a third of American teens in this age group are now working, according to federal data.

The tight labor market is pushing employers to mobilize to find workers. For the first time, Mankato East High School hosted Teen Connect on Wednesday, bringing employers and teens together in the high school gymnasium. About 30 employers connected with more than 350 children.

“We really felt like students could learn skills throughout the summer, like their technical skills and their employability skills,” said Kim Mueller, career paths coordinator for public schools. of Mankato, who helped organize Teen Connect.

“We thought it was the perfect time to remind students that learning doesn’t stop at the end of the school year.”

Mueller said student turnout was higher than expected, “and we were very grateful for that. Some teachers have brought down their whole class. Among employers, Mueller found satisfied hiring managers who sometimes view teenagers as hard to reach.

Jen McCabe, sales and marketing manager for Buffalo Wild Wings in Mankato, said her booth attracted about 100 teenagers during Teen Connect at Mankato East High School on Wednesday. She was handing out coupons for free wings at the restaurant, which was a hit with the students.

Currently, Buffalo Wild Wings has about 100 employees, only a handful of whom are teenagers. McCabe said his team has long relied on college students for part-time employees, but with the tight job market, they’ve had to pivot and accommodate teenagers.

“In the past, we haven’t had to hire high school students,” McCabe said. “Their schedule is more difficult and for a busy sports bar it is a bit difficult to keep students on staff. But with the labor shortages that have happened, that’s something we’re doing. We are opening our doors to hire more high school students. This age group, they want to work. They are very excited.

The job market is so tight that new partnerships are forming. McCabe noted that Wednesday was the first time she was invited to a high school to attend a job fair.

“I worked for Buffalo Wild Wings for 26 years,” she says. “This is the first time that I have taken part in a job fair in a high school in Mankato. This was a big deal for us and I really appreciated that they put this together and set it up.

McCabe said if she got a good hire at Wednesday’s job fair, she thought it was a success.

“It was worth the time and effort to be there,” she said. “To have our brand and name in front of high school students.”

She doesn’t hire for Buffalo Wild Wings, but said her team tries to make it as easy as possible for teens to apply. They can even send an SMS to apply directly to their phone.

Luke Pollema, 16, a sophomore from Mankato East, attended the job fair and was able to connect with the staff at Aces, where he wanted to work this summer. The staff asked him to come back an hour later for a formal interview, which he did. He lands the job and starts on June 6.

“I went there and said I was interested,” said Pollema, for whom Aces will be his first job. “I thought it was really cool that you could learn about a bunch of different jobs in person. I prefer person over technology and it was easier to apply in person and learn everything from the start. They asked me if I wanted to take the job, and of course I said yes.

For his part, Calsbeek likes to work and saved enough money from his job at Hy-Vee to buy a 2006 Ford Ranger. He funded half and his parents helped out with the rest.

Junior in Mankato East, Calsbeek said he saves some of his Hy-Vee checks and spends a little on energy drinks and gas for his truck. He earns $11.15 an hour and works 15 hours a week.

“I like to keep my knees from locking and standing up like a statue,” Calsbeek said. “I like to move around and do those secondary tasks.”

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