While many 16-year-olds are thinking about getting their driver’s licenses and passing pre-calculus, one southern Idaho high school student has much larger aspirations. Jared Lott, a junior from Filer, has big dreams of one day becoming a pediatric oncologist.
In addition to his full high school class schedule, Jared is taking college level medical terminology and health occupation classes and works at a local assisted living facility. In the midst of this, he had been fighting a two-year battle with leukemia.
On June 5, 2010, Jared was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In and out of hospitals, Jared missed out on a lot of school, but that didn’t stop him. He began teaching himself the subjects he was missing, even enrolling in a dual credit honors English class through the University of Idaho so he could begin to receive college credits.
Employers have been increasingly voicing concerns about job applicants – especially young ones – having basic job skills – what’s called soft skills.
The Idaho Department of Labor took up their cause recently with a workshop in Pocatello to help young people, typically first-time job seekers, find work. And a major focus was on the following soft skills:
- Showing up for work on time
- Proper dress and grooming
- Working well with others
- Showing initiative
- The ability to follow directions
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Being polite
Stacy Miller, Mary Johnson and Kim Smith discuss why soft skills are important to employers.
“Soft skills are one of the key factors which can move a young person from being a job seeker to an employee,” department Regional Economist Dan Cravens told the 30 people who took part in the workshop. “We had many employers and parents in the area request that we do a workshop like this so that local youth can better understand how they need to act in order to find a job, and do well at it.”
Many of the 16-to-24-year-olds face the same challenges young people across the country face – unemployment rates over 16 percent. Unemployment rates would probably be higher for this age group, but too many young job seekers have just given up hope of finding work.
Kailamai Hansen had a difficult childhood. She moved in and out of foster care during her teen
years and after her mom’s death, struggled with her school studies. After she transferred to an alternative high school at age 17, she began to focus on her schoolwork and graduated early.
Kailamai Hansen (Photo by Lisa Nagrou photography)
At age 18 – Kailamai like many young people who “age out” of the foster system – lacked the knowledge and skill to care for herself financially and she relied on churches and family friends. Eventually she was put in touch with the Idaho Department of Labor.
Workforce consultant Bonnie Niles worked with Kailamai and signed her up to participate in the department’s youth employment program. Funded by Workforce Investment Act dollars from the federal government, the program provides education, training and employment opportunities for low-income youth. In Kailamai’s case, it provided support for tuition and books at North Idaho College.
“I started to realize that education was my ticket to success,” Kailamai said. “It was my one way ticket to a bright future. Through your (Bonnie’s) help I have come to realize that should I dedicate myself to a task, there are people out there that will believe in me and assist me along the way.”
Kailamai received her associate degree and plans to move to Lewis Clark State College to work toward her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. After that, she would like to go to Gonzaga University and either pursue a law degree or a master’s degree in criminal justice or social work.