Investing In Teens Through Employment

The White House announces a new call to action for businesses, nonprofits and government to work together to provide jobs for teens in the summer of 2012. One expert on entry level employment issues talks about the benefits of President Obama's summer jobs initiative.

President Obama proposed $1.5 billion for high impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth from age 16-24. It’s called the “Pathways Back to Work” fund, and is part of  the American Jobs Act. The investment could result in the creation of nearly 180, 000 job opportunities for low income youth this summer.

Michael Saltsman is a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute in Washington, D.C. He applauds the President’s plan.

“As of November, our country’s teen unemployment rate is still 23.7 percent. And in Texas, it’s averaging above 25 percent and in fact, when you include teens in Texas, who’ve been discouraged to want a job that have stopped looking, it actually  jumps to 26-point-5 percent.”

Saltsman says it’s a difficult time to be a young person when it comes to finding a job. He adds companies should be commended for helping to mold the skills of teenagers, skills that will be with them for their rest of their lives.

“The White Houston press release called them soft skills, other economists have called them the invisible curriculum. But it’s those skills that you pick up in terms of learning how to mange your time, learning how to work with a supervisor, deal with customers. If you don’t get that in your early job, there’s a lot of research that suggest that you’re at a disadvantage later in life.”

He says without the job skills teenagers are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school, even getting into legal trouble, and their wages over their lifetimes don’t tend to be as high as those who did have that job experience.