Career development is a lifelong process of learning, exploring, making decisions and preparing for the future. The answers to the questions “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” change as our lives progress.
Career development begins in early elementary years when we first decide what we will be when we “grow up.” However as we learn more about ourselves and what opportunities are available to us, our career goals evolve.
Career Development Month, beginning Nov. 1, brings awareness to this process and celebrates the mentors, educators, advisors and others who help us every step of the way. On Nov. 15, Lt. Gov. Brad Little will formally announce Gov. Butch Otter’s proclamation of November as Idaho Career Development Month.
At the same ceremony, the Idaho Department of Labor and the Idaho Career Development Association will present the Leadership in Career Development award to Idahoans who make a significant difference in helping others progress in their career development.
You can increase your understanding of your career goals and the steps for achieving them by:
- Improving your current job skills. Find out about training at your workplace, online or in a class that will help you do your current job better or prepare you for a promotion.
- Learning about an occupation that might be a great fit for you. Use the Idaho Career Information System (CIS) to find out about the skills, preparation, wages and outlook for any occupation that interests you.
- Clarifying your goals. Work with a school counselor or Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant to plan your next steps.
— Terry Mocettini, technical & support materials coordinator, Career Information System
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.
Spending on local education took a hit during the recent recession, and 2011 was the first year that per student public money spending decreased nationally since the U.S. Census started collecting annual data in 1977 on public education financing.
The most recent report shows per pupil expenditures dropping four-tenths of a percentage point between 2010 and 2011.
Idaho is near the bottom of the states in per pupil expenditures, ranking 50th in 2011 at $6,824. Utah was last at $6,212.
Idaho was more than $3,700 below the national average of $10,560. Regionally only two states had per pupil expenditures greater than the national average – Wyoming ranked sixth and Montana ranked 25th.
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.