When we were younger, summertime meant hanging out with friends, swimming at the pool and working a summer job. It used to be that a summer job was considered a teenage rite of passage; working at the mall, grocery store, local pool or at a restaurant. But that is not the case anymore. It is part of a growing trend of teenagers focusing on studies, sports and volunteer work over working a summer job.
According to the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, only 1 in 3 teens will be working or looking for a job this summer.
Forty years ago, employment among teens was close to 60 percent; now it’s roughly half that, in a decline that’s been going on since this year’s high school graduates were born. “No group of workers has experienced such a sharp decline in their employment rate since 2000,” the Drexel report says.
Are you a restaurant that has been trying to hire for summer positions? Were those jobs usually filled by teens in the past?
Only 43% of teenagers had a job last summer. That’s down from the 72% of Americans age 16 to 19 who worked in July of 1978, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some states are even struggling to fill the most coveted of summer jobs: lifeguarding at pools, lakes and beaches. Wisconsin recently lowered its minimum age for lifeguards to 15 because the state has had so many unfilled positions.
If teens are not even working at pools or beaches, what chances do restaurants have?
Court the shifting demographic that IS filling those jobs.
The group that is quickly filling these open positions are college students from Europe or other countries on temporary Visas. These students fill as many as 50,000 summer jobs that American teenagers once occupied. In order to bring in these applicants, restaurants will need to change their recruiting strategies. No longer can you simply rely on word-of-mouth or hope someone will see a sign.
Try going to the local college/university and speak to the Career Services or Foreign Exchange Student department to learn the best way to advertise open positions. Most universities have a job board for students to find summer positions. You can also use Google’s new job feature as well as social media, like Facebook and Instagram to post jobs for your restaurant.