Job Opportunities for Teens & Young Adults Still Lacking

A few months ago, in a post entitled The Best Jobs for Teens & Young Adults, I shared my thought that the best job for teens and young adults today might be self-employment.

This was based on a US government study showing that we’re in the worse period of unemployment for teens and young adults that we’ve ever seen.

Sadly, the news seems to be going from bad to worse.  USA Today reported last week that only 47.6% of people ages 16 to 24 had jobs in August.  This is the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948!

Why are there so few job opportunities for young people today?  I think there are three basic reasons:

  1. Older workers are moving down the job ladder.  Because of downsizing they are taking jobs traditionally held by young people.
  2. Senior citizens are moving back into the workforce, because their retirement income isn’t enough to live on, and they’re taking a lot of the entry-level jobs typically held by teens.
  3. Fewer are moving up the ladder. There isn’t as much upward mobility these days.  Those who have an entry-level job are happy to have any job, and aren’t looking to move up right now and risk being the “new guy” who could be the first to go if the company has to make cuts.

As a father, I’m concerned about the career prospects for today’s young people. When I was a teen and university student back in the 80’s, I had no problem finding work.  In fact, I worked two jobs on several occasions. I had plenty of opportunities because I knew people, and knew people who knew people, who owned or managed businesses.

Back then, my friends and I believed that our future would be bright and full of hope and opportunity. Unfortunately, for many of today’s young people, their future isn’t filled with hope and opportunity, but angst.  Some economists believe this younger generation in America will be the first generation that won’t be better-off economically than their parent’s generation.

The USA Today article explained that this negative jobs outlook does have one hopefully positive outcome:  It has driven young people “back to community colleges and technical schools to reinvent themselves in jobs in health care and other fields.”

I think this economic downturn serves as a great reminder, not just to teens and young adults, but to everyone, that it’s up to us to manage our career path.  We’ve got to be lifelong learners.  We need to stay on top of our field and also learn new skills that will keep us valuable and employable.

Also, I believe it is important to build our social network and use it to help others – because we never know when we’re going to need help ourselves. And I think it is vital to develop multiple streams of income (by starting our own business either full or part-time) so we’re not overly dependent on our job for our livelihood

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts!

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  1. I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker said this:

    “The only security is found in prison. There you get 3 square meals, and predictable schedules. With freedom, however, comes risk and reward.”

    There is no true “secure” future any more, including our J.O.B.’s… therefore identifying out gifts, passions, and calling will help us regroup and refocus next time the “cheese moves.” (see Him and Haw from “Who Moved My Cheese.”)

    In reference to the “multiple streams of income”… I think the only way to truly manage that well is to develop a systematic (almost franchise-able) pipeline of businesses. I’ve recently been reading the Micheal Gerber book, “Emyth” and found his approach to building small businesses very insightful.

    I’ve sort of blogged about that here:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rich.


  2. umeployed teen says

    I don’t feel like older people should be pefered over younger people its not fair to young adults who are trying to make it. How do we expect to have a better ecomomy if we can put the younger adults to work. Most of them are working to get threw school to have a better life. Working will give them the training and respondibilty needed to work it in the work.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment! I know a lot of people of all ages are having a tough time finding work right now. One great way for young people (well, anyone, really) to gain experience is to volunteer with an organization or cause they care about. I worked myself into several jobs in the past by volunteering first.

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