Is there more to a job than just a paycheck for those seeking employment between college or high school semesters?
“It has been a pattern that this is the regular season for higher employment,” said Jim Lee, professor of economics, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “This is the season that a lot of kids are trying to find work, and at the same time you have college graduates trying to find work.”
“I see a lot of opportunity for the area given so much development going on,” Lee said.
The jobs are out there. The trick, if you wish, is finding the right one.
For teens this summer, that isn’t always easy.
Good news though. Wages have gone up due to competition from the oil field, said Monika De La Garza, Workforce Solutions communications and outreach coordinator.
“On any given day... there are over 2,000 jobs. That is a conservative number,” she said.
“We are hearing from employers that there is a lot of growth but a lot of challenges.”
That challenge is luring workers, which is opening up new jobs for younger employees needing temporary work.
For those 16-24 years old, the largest employer is the retail, food service and entertainment markets.
“Twenty-eight percent of the young adult workforce are working in these three industries,” De La Garza said.
What is interesting is that the oil industry is now driving up the pay in every market from the person working as a stockboy to convenience store clerks.
“What we are starting to see is they are having to raise their minimum wages in order to keep people,” De la Garza said. “Some of the stores are paying $15 per hour just to keep people.
“It is something that is a dynamic boom across the board.”
There is a reason so many once lower paying jobs are having to raise their wages.
The employees they could once count on are now taking jobs in the oil field—as drivers or even roustabouts.
“Let’s say the person working at the hamburger business,” De La Garza said, “they get an opportunity to get a job as a roustabout.
“They are going to leave.
“The hamburger joint is needing to replace that person.”
In order to hire and keep someone, they have to raise their starting wage.
This same story could be told using nearly any business in Beeville.
“If one person goes from the retail to the oil and gas industry, then the retail position needs to be filled,” she said.
But is employment right for all the youths out there?
Lee would actually prefer to see teens volunteering their time in summer programs like Habitat for Humanity than working in fast-food restaurants.
“I don’t think it pays off that much,” he said of most part-time jobs. “I learned that lesson working during the summer.
“It doesn’t help much making a few dollars an hour, but at the same time I didn’t know better.
“I spent the rest of the years taking summer classes.”
Lee said that everyone would be better off if these students were out in the community as volunteers.
There is another option though.
He was also calling upon the businesses to help by offering internships for the youth.
“It is going to engage the teens,” he said.
“Not only will this provide youths something to keep them occupied during the summer; it also instills a sense of pride in their communities.”
“It is one way to keep our teens engaged with the community,” he said. “Then they tend to stay the rest of their lives. The summer is the time to give them that type of experience.”
This is the time, he said, for businesses and the community leaders to partner together.
“Right now, we have an oil boom,” he said. “Obviously, most cities are collecting a lot of tax revenue.
“Perhaps this is the time to boost up our workforce.
“The workforce is the best asset we have.”
Internships, he said, are a chance for students to work in more professional environments that provide them experience in their sought-after fields. This, he said, ultimately creates graduates that are ready to enter the workforce.
“It should be a concerted effort for the college, businesses and the city working together,” Lee said.
Internships aren’t for everyone, and some students do want the money earned during their summer employment.
For those youth seeking a job, the task can be daunting, especially if they don’t know what to expect or even where to begin.
“Right now, we have about 213 youths in our Emerging Leaders Initiative program,” she said. “The door is always open to youth.”
De La Garza said they are here to help those young people who need it.
“Career counselors are here to help them overcome any kind of barriers, such as education, to getting a job,” she said. “We also get them into career exploration.”
De La Garza said that summer jobs are about more than just earning paychecks.
“There is a lot that could come out of a young adult getting a job,” she said. “They will gain experience and an attitude to succeed in our work force.
“They will interact with dynamic working professionals.”
Whatever the youths do this summer, Lee has one hope.
“I hope they are not loafing around and playing video games,” he said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.