What learning experiences do teens miss out on if they don't find summer jobs?
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Connect with Kids  

July 2015

IN THIS ISSUE: Summer Jobs: What Do Teens Lose Without Them?
What are teens losing without gaining work experience?

“The teen summer job was once a rite of passage. Now, it’s a rite that might have passed."  –Alison Griswold,
Over the years, the rate of teen employment in the summer has “dramatically trailed off” according to a study done by The Pew Research Center. The Research Center also reported that teen employment rates have “typically hovered between 46 percent and 58 percent during the summer,” with the ranks settling at 31.6 percent just last year. With this significant decline, what are teens missing out on without the experience of the summer job?  

Although there is not a universal reason explaining why teenage unemployment rates are so high, the benefits of teenage employment have been proven. Recent research has found that “teenagers who work in high school and college wind up with salaries 16% higher than teens who don’t work.” However, gaining job experience as a teenager has far more benefits than just the paycheck. Along with the payoff down the road, experts predict that teens who work during high school are “likely to end up with extra confidence, keen time-management skills, and greater academic success.”
Andrew Sum, director of the Center of Labor Market Studies, explains that this crisis is “not just a matter of kids getting some extra pocket money,” but the reality is that “kids who don’t work carry this burden throughout adulthood.” Without job experience as a young person, these teens lose the opportunity to become prepared for the challenges that will arise later on in the “real world.” In a study done by the Carnegie Mellon University, teens who have part-time jobs will develop “better work habits and help them make more informed career choices.” Skills such as responsibility, punctuality, common sense, maturity, and other important life skills accompany the acquisition of a job as a teen.
Job experience not only helps teens develop crucial life skills, but also looks great on college applications. Students who are able to state their work experience on an application are “more likely to show initiative, motivation, and drive,” says Carol DelPropst, assistant vice president of admissions and financial aid at Ohio Wesleyan University. The pressure of applying to college weighs heavily on a teenager, but a little job experience can help their applications stand out.

Work experience is an excellent means for students to develop critical life skills, but in the absence of a summer job Connect with Kids resources can help. Websource is the Connect with Kids online resource with hundreds of hours of video and extensive print materials to inform kids of the importance of the qualities like integrity, self-control, punctuality and responsibility. Take advantage of this resource to help your children develop as future contributing citizens.

Help your students weigh their summer options by informing them of the benefits that come from work experience.
What happened to the teen summer job?

According to The Wall Street Journal, the availability of entry-level jobs has dropped dramatically with several companies’ decisions to cut costs. As a result, many entry-level jobs that were once a “crucial first step on the path to a professional career,” have been slashed and replaced by automation and outsourcing. Not only does this reduce availability of summer jobs, but it makes it more difficult for students to prepare for life after college graduation. 

The Wall Street Journal also stated that the list of expectations has only gotten longer as many companies “expect new graduates to arrive job-ready from day one.” Without the availability of these once-desired jobs, the pressure is on to find an internship or other job opportunities to gain the skills necessary for employment post-graduation.
Along with the decline of job availability, studies show that employers are less likely to pick teens.  Simply put by, teens are being “shoved to the back of the line.” For example, according to, teens used to make up one-fourth of the fast food workforce, and now they make up a mere 16%.
Experts say that the decline in teenage jobs can’t be blamed entirely on external forces; some teens simply just don’t want to work. While many might not want to work for the sake of not working, Vox states that many don’t have the interest in making money, but instead, prioritize things that will look good on college applications. “Pre-college” programs and volunteering opportunities are among the many things that may “cushion” a college application. The “I’ll work when I’m older” mentality could explain part of the low percentage of employed teens, but the intense focus and competitive nature of applying to colleges may be prioritized: leaving little room for the extra responsibility of a job.
School can also be an inhibiting factor in the acquisition of a summer job. Although some teens might want a job, they simply just don’t have time for one. An article on included data demonstrating the increased rates of enrollment in summer school, with 2009’s percentage being at over 50%. This same article explains that there really “are a bunch of teens out there who would like to work but have prioritized other things over working.” For example, as college preparation becomes more taxing and students search for opportunities to “pad their college applications,” they are consequently missing out on necessary work experience.

Teen Jobs: The Big Payoff, GoodHousekeeping

The secular decline in teen employment: the role of compulsory schooling and work permits,
What happened to the summer teen job? Slate
The fading of the teen summer job, Pew Research Center
Where Did All the Entry-Level Jobs Go? The Wall Street Journal
Are teen jobs becoming a luxury good? The Boston Globe
3 reasons the teen summer job is fading, Vox

Teens Aren't Working Summer Jobs Like They Used To, Nerdwallet

American teens don't want to work, MarketWatch 

Connect With Kids Websource

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Connect with Kids is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and has been in business for over 15 years.  We own one of the nation’s largest evidence-based, non-fiction video libraries on student behavior and parent engagement and address issues such as bullying and violence prevention, character and life skills, attendance and achievement, health and wellness, digital citizenship, drug and alcohol prevention and college and career readiness.   Our company works with school districts to assess their needs in these areas and builds custom websites with video programs; lesson plans and parent resources that are accessible to the entire community including all parents.  Connect with Kids is listed as an Effective Producer of Programs on the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse List and is also listed on the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).