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.
Now that school is almost over teens are beginning to think about summer jobs. Make sure you know what age requirements exist for a particular job before your child applies.
Age 14 is listed by the Fair Labor Standards Act as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs); and perform babysitting or minor chores around a private home.
Workforce consultant Robin Hollis answers questions about what Idaho Department of Labor consultants do and how they help Idaho job seekers find work:
What does an Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant do?
Workforce consultants help with job searches and job placement. We also provide guidance, tools and tips to make a job seeker’s application and/or resume more marketable.
Some workforce consultants also help customers with unemployment insurance (UI) or programs that will make them more employable.
My main focus is serving as a Youth Case Manager. I work with at-risk youth between the ages of 16-21, help young people earn their GEDs or mentor and help them determine what career they want to pursue.
We also show people how to use the tools the Department of Labor has to offer such as Idaho’s Career Information System, Labor Market Information (wages and statistics) and all of the available agency website resources.
Keith Jensen is a 19-year-old high school dropout who bounced from couch to couch the past two years, when what he really wanted was his GED and a job.
Reba Elson, a workforce consultant at the Idaho Department of Labor, helped Keith assess his skills and found he was ready to take the GED tests. He had no transportation so his case manager purchased a one-month pass with Treasure Valley Transit so Keith could go to the GED testing location and start his job search.
Reba mentioned during a staff meeting that Keith tested well on the math portion of his GED. Another staff member heard a local precision machine parts company was looking for an applicant who was good with decimals. Reba contacted Keith and the employer about the possibility of on-the-job-training and the employer agreed to an interview.
Youth unemployment has been a concern throughout this recession and well into the recovery. According to the Current Population Survey, young people are having more trouble finding employment. Labor force participants between the ages of 16 and 19 especially face an annual unemployment rate three times the rate for the civilian labor force overall.
This is not just a phenomenon of the current recovery. From 2007 to 2012, younger workers have continued to have a much higher rate than that of the overall population.
While the employment situation for the country is improving, that gap is not. In 2007, unemployment among 16- to 19-year-olds averaged 11 percentage points higher than in the overall labor force. This difference peaked in 2010 at an average of over 16 percentage points. Since then, the difference has stayed roughly the same, losing only a half point in 2012. Over the same span, the unemployment rate for those 16 and older has dropped more than two percentage points.
After Heather Fields enrolled in the Idaho Department of Labor’s youth employment program in August 2012, she worked part time at the Boise local office as a clerk – a job where she could develop important workplace attitudes, behaviors and skills necessary for landing full-time employment.
She demonstrated tremendous commitment during her work experience, but midway through learned she would lose her place to stay in Boise in less than two weeks. For Heather, moving back to California meant jeopardizing the positive path she was on in her new life in Boise.
Labor’s Boise office staff helped Heather develop her resume, provided job listings and employment referrals and spread the word internally that she needed full-time employment with a great employer – and she needed it quickly.