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San Diego Teens Facing Slim Job Market

San Diego Teens Facing Slim Job Market
San Diego Teens Facing Slim Job Market
San Diego Teens Facing Slim Job Market GUESTS:Peter Callstrom, President, CEO, San Diego Workforce PartnershipPhil Blair, Executive Officer, Manpower and author of Job Won

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, where did all of the summer jobs go? A recent Brookings Institution survey ranked San Diego 79 out of 100 metropolitan areas for youth employment. The report had our employment rate for youth for the years sixteen through nineteen at only 23%. The rate for youth summer employment back in the year 2000 was up around 40%. There are programs in San Diego in that helping young people get summer jobs and work experience, but consistent funding has been a problem. Joining me to talk about the challenges for kids finding summer work are my guests. Peter Callstrom is President and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, welcome to the program. Phil Blair is Executive Officer of Manpower Employment Services. Welcome back. Peter, does this survey of the shrinking number of young people getting summer jobs in San Diego, does that surprise you? PETER CALLSTROM: No, it doesn't, but it is troubling. The importance of summer youth employment cannot be overstated. We all had that experience, for most of us, and it has been life-changing in such a positive way. We have to do all we can to engage more and more youth during that critical down time in the summer, it is up to all of us. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the workforce partnership, have you seen the numbers go down over the last few years? PETER CALLSTROM: It is attributable to a number of things, but a big piece is the funding, it used to be quite heavy through the federal government where there was subsidized employment and thousands of youth had paid jobs available to them. And our economy has changed greatly in the past 10 to 15 years. There are a lot of contributing factors. We are unique region with his skill and service positions at the same time, but it is ultra competitive. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Just picking up on a point that Peter made, employers are still recovering from the economic downturn we saw in recent years. Is that one of the reasons that youth employment has tumbled? PHIL BLAIR: It is, because when your sales drop and net profit is in danger, you make changes, you try to automate, you try to outsource, do anything you can to stay in business. Unfortunately, the entry-level jobs are the first to go, those are usually the very young people or summer jobs that companies need it before, but they find they can do without now with technology and automation. It pays this price. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Peter, give us an idea of the typical kinds of jobs that high school is in recent high schoolers would get here in San Diego, maybe that are still available and some of them are not still available. PETER CALLSTROM: I guess the typical, there is no typical, because it's across the board. Everything from working in fast food which I did as a young person and it had a great impact and it was a great job, I am so many things that stay with me to this day. Right up to life sciences and working in all different sectors. It depends on interest, motivation, acumen of the young person, and it really comes down to employers to give a young person a shot, to bring them in and have improved value and add value. PHIL BLAIR: I think the perfect example is SeaWorld. They hire 4000 people for summers, and they started months out. Our young people need to know, it's not I'm out of school at mid-June and it's time to start looking for a job. Or I've been bored for two weeks, it's time to start looking. They need to plan way out. That includes internships, that is a program that the workforce partnership has. But they need to plan ahead, they can't wait to last-minute, or it will be very competitive and they will find all of the jobs have been filled. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Some of the typical summer jobs you think of high schoolers having, are they being filled now by older people? PHIL BLAIR: It's a very interesting phenomenon, Maureen. For the first time in history, young kids are competing with their grandparents for the same job. You think about an older worker, 60 to 65, seventy years old, that's young now. Seventy-eight is the new fifty-eight. They are healthy and vivacious, they want to stay busy, a be they can't live off of Social Security, maybe they have lost equity in the house, so they are going back to fast food, Walmart, SeaWorld, and those are the jobs that their grandkids typically would be entry-level jobs, so it is a very interesting anomaly going on. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Two big employers have their own programs to hire teenagers for summer jobs? PETER CALLSTROM: In some cases yes, one wonderful company, QUALCOMM has been funding their own youth employment program for years now. They do a fantastic job, they bring in 25 to 30 or more young people to come in for a wonderful experience, and so we need other companies to step up like QUALCOMM has to self fund and bring them in and provide opportunity for young people from all socioeconomic classes. They're looking for motivated, ambitious young people willing to do whatever it takes to get their foot in the door and learn and provide value. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Phil, did there used to be more pogroms like that? Have they dried up? PHIL BLAIR: They did, as the world became much more competitive there is less flexibility with funding, now that we staff to the level that can sustain a business, and we don't have the flexibility to add ten people for summer, just because it is a good thing to do. The philanthropic pocket is really endangered, and that is where it has to come to. The interns have to be productive, they have to be ready to go to work. The program that Peter talked about, Connect to Careers is an excellent way for young people to spend days becoming work ready, to know what it is like to work in a business and talk to people. All of those things that turn them from little kids that are wide-eyed to realizing they are in a business and need to act like it and think of themselves as productive employees. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to follow up on that, what are the benefits of working summer jobs for young people? What do they get out of it? PETER CALLSTROM: The list is long, but it really instills in a young person so many qualities that they probably are not exposed to into they are in the working world. Having to deal with a variety of people, having to be on time, to be positive, be a team member, to really understand what it takes to be of value is a worker. Not show up and get a paycheck, but how to show up on time and be attentive, how to be organized, all of these things that those of us who have been in the working world have to take for granted in order to fit in, but for young people, often times they may show to an interview unprepared, not looking right. And then they will not be able to get a position, this is where the program that we have Connect to Careers offers more of a continuum of support, because we have work readiness courses they can attend and learn what it means to show up and interview appropriately, what it means to be work ready and show up and not have to stumble, but rather hit the ground running. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How is the city of San Diego promoting this new program? PETER CALLSTROM: Connect to Careers is funded by the city of San Diego and the Mayor's office. We have $240,000 invested by the city council and mayor. Not only have they put funds there, but they are hiring in the city council offices as well as in the Mayor office. They have interns for the summer, so they are stepping up in practice. It is really inspiring, because these young people who have this opportunity to work in City Hall have life-changing experience. Whether they stay in public service or not, they have acquired these experiences with working with high profile individuals in a very busy and demanding environment that will support them well wherever they go. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mayor Faulconer has made youth employment one of his goals. I think he wants to have 2500 youth jobs. PETER CALLSTROM: We agree with him, we think that is great. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is the city committing to make that happen? PETER CALLSTROM: Funds and support, like hiring directly and really taking the bully pulpit and sharing that with the employment community. They are getting that word out to aggressively inspire other employers to open their doors, because we have thousands of employers in our region, and it does not take much if many hire one, or two individuals, we will achieve that goal. A big piece of getting there is making employers aware that we have this program, and we have thousands of young people this year alone who have signed up and want to go to work. Employers just go to our site,, and they can fill out in interest form or call us directly, we will let you know who is available, and the applicants, and off we go. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Some people are wondering if the increase in the minimum wage both on the state level and recently on the local level, will that shrink the job market for teens even more? PHIL BLAIR: I think it will. Will it be drastic, or minimal? We won't know until we look backwards. But will some companies let go lower paid employees and do without or more importantly, would people would have been hired not be hired? We would not know what happened, because they did not get let go. But you have a finite amount of payroll, and you cannot magically make that bigger. So is it the right thing to do? That's a big question. Obviously everyone would like to be lifted out of poverty, but to be win the battle or lose the war? We will have to look back in five years to figure that out. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the city program Connect to Careers, is there any funding for businesses to hire teens? PETER CALLSTROM: The supports all of the work it takes in order to open up doors. Readiness courses, staffing to support each worker, to make the match. But the employer pays for the wages, it is not a high cost because we're talking about entry-level positions for the most art, but employers keep coming back because they realize that they are getting motivated young people who are adding value, it is not a give away, this is about adding more value to their team. Otherwise it would not work, so in the end, again we have ambitious, motivated young people who are ready to go, and then we have countless stories of success as a result. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And fill? PHIL BLAIR: It's important for business it's no this is not a charity. As Peter said, these kids have signed up, gone through interviews, they have gone to training, they want to work and they want to be productive, they want to learn. As business people, we have to tee them up for success. We have to have projects for them. We have two in our headquarters at Manpower. One is working in our finance area, because his career plans were finance and he wanted to reassure himself that he wanted to do that, and he did a great project for us there. The other one is in our training department, and he is into websites and teeing those up in design. He has been a real asset to us. Businesses need to think months out what are the projects that need to be done, that Peter running a small temporary help firm, here's a project from the company, and his team matches and in turn that can do that project. You're not just getting people walking in off the street, this can be a productive use of your employment dollars. But you have to meet the student halfway. A concern that we have is that the company is not prepared, the student is bored and keeps getting passed around, given stapling or file stuff, that is wrong. Young people get the wrong impression of what the business world is like. It can be a very productive experience for the worker and for the employer, if they tee it up correctly. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I talked about this survey that we were in the lowest percentile in the number of youth employed. Do you think we will ever see the 40% figure that we saw in 2000? Is the workplace changed enough that we won't be seeing those numbers again? PHIL BLAIR: The workplace has definitely changed. There are fewer and fewer entry-level jobs. Students need to tee themselves up for these internships in high school. As an employer, they need to start building resumes in high school. I am going to ask what they did in high school, what they did on summer breaks, I want to hear internships in the finance department. I want to hear that sort of thing. There's going to be more and more pressure on young people, as they have to compete for internships and jobs, as it is on all workers. The bar has been raised and will continue to be raised, and we have to be on our best game and take responsibility for ourselves. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Peter, I am out of time, I am so sorry. I want you back to tell us more about this. Thank you both very much.

Where did all the summer jobs go?

A recent Brookings Institution survey ranked San Diego 79th out of 100 metropolitan areas for youth employment based on 2012 Census figures. The report had the area's employment rate for teens ages 16 to 19 at only 23 percent.

In 2000, the rate of youth summer employment in San Diego was around 40 percent.


San Diego has programs aimed at helping young people get summer jobs and work experience, but consistent funding has been a problem.

Pete Callstrom, CEO of San Diego Workforce Partnership, said federal funding "used to be quite heavy" for youth employment programs, but the government subsidies haven't been as generous in recently years.

In San Diego, Callstrom said, the job market also is unusually competitive for teens.

"We’re a very unique region with very high-skill (jobs) and a lot of service positions at the same time, but it’s ultra competitive,” he said.