Workin’ for the summer Workforce Dev. to host job fair

Published 11:21 am Monday, April 4, 2016

Area youth will get to scour options for work this summer at a summer youth job fair Wednesday.

The job fair will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Austin High School commons area. The fair is open to students from Austin as well as other area students, and is hosted by the Austin Chamber, Austin Public Schools, and Workforce Development Inc.

The job fair came from the Business Education Committee from the Chamber, which offers scholarships and a step-up program.

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“We were kind of missing a component of just general work [experience],” Placement Specialist for Workforce Development Inc. Michael Postma said.

Postma noted parents and guardians can also tag along with their student if they want. The fair was scheduled for 3 p.m. so students could easily access it right after school. The fair is designed for students ages 14 to 18. Postma said there are about 10 employers signed up currently, and there will be packets with more summer jobs available for businesses that couldn’t be at the fair.

One of the big things the job fair organizers hope to combat is the drop in percentage of youth who get work experience before they reach adulthood. Postma said in 2000 there were about 70 percent of youth who worked, while in 2014 there were about 48.5 percent. Postma explained this is a combination of things such as adults taking more jobs during the recession, certain jobs that are no longer available to youth due to insurance requirements and more, but organizers think it’s an area of opportunity for growth both for local businesses and youth.

“That’s really pretty low historically, so we’re hoping to help bump that number up,” Postma said.

He added that while organizers understand students have school, sports, music and other extra curricular activities which are also important, having a summer job can be a key element of growing up and becoming an adult. A summer job can also help students determine if they really want to go into that line of work before they go to college.

“This would be a great taste to get some experience and they can find out, ‘Yeah, this is really awesome and it’s what I want,’ or find out, ‘Wow, this isn’t really what I thought it was,’” he said.

He said while it can be difficult for students to get summer jobs, it can also be difficult for businesses to hire students due to regulations and a lack of student applications.

“We thought it would be a great way to kind of help two [things] at the same time, so that’s why we’re holding this job fair,” Postma said.

Any business, big or small, is open to apply. Postma said even employers who might need a student for only a few weeks is open to apply. Businesses can call Postma at 507-433-0555 to be added to the packet or sign up for the fair. There is no cost to sign up for the fair.