As a teenager, did you have an after-school or summer job to earn money for college, a car or just pocket money? If you’re over 30, chances are you did. That early job probably taught you a lot about responsibility, working with others and managing money.
It also helped you understand what you did and didn’t want to do when you grew up (my summer job sure helped me figure that out). In fact, there’s a good chance it set the stage for you to become the entrepreneur that you are today.
Many of today’s teens don’t have the same life-changing experience. We can blame the recession. Unemployed adults are more than willing to take work that used to be handled by teens, from restaurant servers to corner-store cashiers.
In 2011, only 25 percent of American teens had jobs, according to a new study by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies. And in low-income areas, the percentage of jobless teens is often far higher. In 1999 and 2000, 50 percent of teens were working.
Are there jobs at your business that could be filled by teens? I’m not suggesting you displace your adult workers in favor of a high school crew. But if you could use additional part-time help, hiring teens could be a win-win situation.
You can train workers who haven’t had time yet to learn bad habits.
You're establishing a pipeline for workers who may come back to your company full-time after they graduate.
You may spend less than you would to hire adult employees.
Teens are looking for part-time or shift work, and aren’t all that concerned about employee benefits.
Before you hire teens, know that federal and state laws restrict the hours teens under 18 can work and the type of work they can do. Be sure you are clear on the laws affecting your business. Visit the Department of Labor’s Youth Rules website for federal rules regarding hiring teens. Check the list of State Labor Offices to find the agency that regulates teen labor in your state.
Hiring teens benefits your community, as well as your company.
Teens typically spend their earnings locally.
Young people who have jobs are doing something productive with time that might otherwise be spent out on the streets.
Teenagers who have the experience of working in a small business get a taste of what entrepreneurship is all about.
If you have teens in your family, you have a special duty to involve them in your business. Don’t insist that your kids follow in your footsteps, but give them the opportunity to see what running a business entails.
By experiencing what it’s like to work and exploring different aspects of the business, your teen will have a better idea of what they want to do in life.
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