Teens Targeted For Summer Jobs

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Young job seekers attend a job fair.(Photo: COWIC)
Young job seekers attend a job fair.(Photo: COWIC)

While Ohio unemployment trends downward the job market remains especially tough for teens and young adults. Now a central Ohio non-profit agency and private industry are staging job fairs to help put a dent in youth unemployment.

“We are looking for positions for cooks, dishwashers, hosts, servers, and looking for people willing to invest themselves in the hospitality industry with a great company.”

Recruiters with more than a dozen businesses searched for employees at a job fair at the Westerville Community Center. It’s the 4th of 5 to be held before students go on summer break.

Sous Chef at the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Matt Paisley says he wants to hire up to 20 young people as cooks, dishwashers, and waiters.

“It’s a different focal point for them to get a position than the older crowd. They’re looking to take a couple more chances, work longer hours than that crowd,” says Paisley.

17 year old Jajuon Poindexter a junior at Westerville Central High School has worked before in a kitchen.

“I worked at St. Stephens Community House as like the chef’s assistant, cooking for the old folks and stuff. So you like being in the kitchen then? Yes. And what do you like about that? I like to cook food, I know how to cook food and I enjoy cooking food,” says Poindexter.

The Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation or COWIC has government and private funds to employ about 2700 teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24.

It’s estimated nearly a quarter of teens are unemployed and for black youth the figure can be more than double.

Director of the youth workforce program, Gailmarie Harris matches young adults with potential employers at job fairs.

“Young people have their own idea of what they think want to do, and even if they want a job they’re not quite sure about how to go about doing that.” And so we ask them to come to COWIC, get the instructions on how to apply. Get into the system, because we can also advocate on their behalf,” explains Harris.

Harris says the summer jobs program also attracts private businesses to provide many jobs at their own cost.

Corporate recruiter Trisha Mannick is with Redemtech a company that recycles old computers, laptops, cell phones and printers. Mannick has 8 positions open.

“I definitely feel if they’re going for an IT career this is a really great place for them to be because they’re learning entry-level information about IT equipment,” explains Mannick.

21 year old Maya Dixon is from Columbus but studies at Spellman College in Atlanta. The English Major says she understands it’s a competitive job market.

“I‘m competing against people who actually have families and have people to support. And it’s more difficult to find a job when you don’t have anyone to support and it’s just yourself,” says Dixon.

20 year old Desmond Holmes a student at Columbus State says he’s ready to put the time into job hunting.

“Nothing was really difficult I just had to make like looking for a job, a job for real. And I had to stay focused and not let everything distract me,” says Holmes.

Gailmarie Harris with COWIC adds that young job seekers can get help on following up with companies through the agency. The last of 5 youth job fairs is scheduled for next week.

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