- Businesses struggling with staffing challenges are lowering their age requirements to find workers.
- The unemployment rate among teenagers stands at 11.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the lowest rate in October since 1968.
- Stuart Roble argues that the obligation to hire teenagers to fill the jobs left empty by those leaving the workforce is actually a good thing.
We are currently experiencing an unprecedented labor shortage, and businesses are suffering because of it.
It seems teenagers are in high demand to fill these shortages; teens between the ages of 15 and 19 account for 13% of all hires in the retail sector as of October, compared to just 6% two years ago.
The unemployment rate among teenagers stands at 11.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the lowest rate in October since 1968.
“Small businesses that might not have thought about hiring these teenagers are now opening their doors,” said Luke Pardue, an economist at Gusto.
The National Retail Federation anticipates retailers will be hiring 500,000 to 665,000 seasonal workers. Amazon is aiming to hire 150,000 seasonal workers, and it’s expected that teens will fill many of these roles.
LinkedIn data found that there were 164% more seasonal jobs in November than in the beginning of the year. According to LinkedIn, the majority (45%) of seasonal jobs open now are for retail positions; followed by Transportation and Logistics (25%), and jobs in consumer goods (13%).
“Part of what’s causing more teenagers to be hired now is really their availability and their willingness to take many jobs that perhaps other adults are not rushing into right now,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economics professor at Northeastern University in Boston.
Both larger and smaller businesses are experiencing significant or moderate staffing challenges. As a result, many are increasing pay, offering bonuses, and lowering their age requirements.
LinkedIn found that almost all (89%) seasonal jobs do not require a four-year degree (compared to 38% of non-seasonal jobs that don’t require this level of education).
Some states are calling for a change in child labor laws. In early October, members of the Ohio state senate introduced a bill that would extend the non-summer legal working hours for 14- and 15-year-olds.
Later that month, Wisconsin’s state senate green-lit a similar bill, although labor activists suggest that raising the minimum wage would do more to incentivize would-be workers.
Some employers say the only applicants who are showing up for interviews are teenagers. Employers are eager to hire any ready, willing and able worker, and are setting the minimum requirements fairly low.
According to Stuart Robles, the obligation to hire teenagers to fill the jobs left empty by those leaving the workforce is actually a good thing.
Stuart Robles, co-author of The New World of Entrepreneurship: Insiders’ Guide to Buying and Selling Your Own Business in the Digital Age, says that companies waste money and time on hiring “best practices” that needlessly prolong the time to get someone working and frustrate both existing and prospective employees.
Robles makes three points:
1. Farewell to months long recruitment processes and goodbye to “experience.”
According to Robles, businesses that hire teenagers will quickly realize the smokescreen that recruiters and HR managers created over the years. These teens have had a device with a broadband connection put in their hands since they were toddlers…and they are fast learners.
It won’t be the same as hiring somebody with experience, but once on the job, they should perform nearly at par within days or weeks (instead of years with prior generations).
2. Advice for business owners: hire fast, fire fast.
“At Briggs we’ve had to hire people for many different businesses we’ve run over the years. We had a simple policy: Hire the first person that responded to the ad and showed up for the interview. Except for a few rare exceptions, that first candidate was always hired on the spot. People thought we were crazy,” Robles said.
At the same time, Robles stipulated very clearly there would be a trial period, usually of 2 to 6 weeks, and that his company would quickly fire the person if they did not perform well.
“You can usually tell within the first couple of days if a person was a mis-hire, the ironic part is that no fancy HR and recruitment ‘best practices’ would have ever weeded this out,” Robles said.
He seldom had to fire anyone, as he discovered that people are usually good at their jobs, and you really cannot tell anything about a person’s actual performance until you put them to work.
3. Embrace and welcome two-way mentoring.
Robles has dived into the concept of “reverse mentorship,” in which teenage workers will need much mentoring as they can be good at their jobs, but still are at an age where they need to keep learning about life.
“A new informal contract can be agreed between the old and the young, you mentor me on life and career and business, and I will mentor you on the newest technologies and how to communicate with younger people in their new language,” Robles said.
What are the pros and cons of hiring teenagers?
- Companies can save money. Because teenagers typically work part-time, entities that employ them can save money on benefits, and might even be able to claim a tax credit for employing teenagers. Hiring teen workers can reduce payroll costs, in part because of the youth minimum wage and in part because they are less experienced employees and would receive starting levels of pay.
- Younger employees can bring a fresh perspective. Many companies today use a reverse-mentoring philosophy in which young workers share perspectives with older ones, on topics such as social media and crowdsourcing.
- Youth employment keeps crime down. Employing teens has proven to be useful in assisting them to be ready for the world’s job market as well as boost their self-esteem and develop soft skills. It’s also been seen that youth employment has reduced the number of crimes in communities through keeping teenagers busy with work opportunities during peak seasons.
- Teenagers’ schedules revolve around school. Employers say they know many of their new, hard-working employees will have to quit or will only be able to work weekends once school starts again, but there is no other choice.
- Teens need to be trained due to their inexperience. When employing teens, it probably is their first job. They’ll need extra help getting to know the ropes, but fortunately – young people learn fast.
- Teenage workers get hurt more often. They are treated for workplace injuries in the emergency department at nearly twice the rate of older workers. In 2020, teens between the age of 15 and 19 required emergency room treatment for workplace related injuries every 5 minutes.