Can and should your teen work?

The teen labor force took a huge hit in the latest recession, which technically ended in 2009, but the reason was not solely the lack of job opportunities but also a decline in teens seeking a job. As college enrollment started to climb in the 1990s the number of teens seeking jobs has declined. Many teens planning on attending college make a conscious decision to approach schooling and extra curricular activities, as if they were a job. Also many  jobs traditionally held by teens are in declining industries where the workers have been replaced by technology and outsourcing has occurred.  Often adult and or immigrant workers are being employed instead in these positions. What does this mean for your homeschooling teen, who has the time to seek employment, and is there value in it for them?

There are several reasons working in the teen years is valuable. The most important reason is cited by employers hiring the high school and college graduates of today. Their main complaint about young workers is that they lack interpersonal skills including how to communicate and collaborate plus they do not possess any history of employment to use as a gauge of skills learned. Having your first job as a teen aids in the development of these skills, as well as, teaching you how important it is to show up on time ready to work every day. Developing a work history is also important for the teen who finds that staying in college is dependent on their contributing to payment of school related expenses. It is much easier to get a job once you have demonstrated you can perform well and this could be the difference to continuing a college education. This leads to the third reason: increasingly in our society it is harder to get started in the workforce. Getting a break and obtaining that first job seems more elusive in our economy than it ever has been.

As the parent of a homeschooling teen wishing or needing to work, what can you do? We are a society of personal connections, so do not be afraid to help your child start off by introducing them to current and former employers and or asking friends and business associates for beginning employment opportunites. The homeschooling youth has a distinct advantage because they can create a flexible schedule and adapt to different workplace environments. Make discussions with your child about what they experience in the workplace  a part of your homeschooling routine helping them learn the importance of safe and good work habits. Becoming a successful member of the workforce or entrepreneur does not often happen overnight and it takes dedication and perseverance. When a young adult works, you notice a huge leap in personal growth and maturity that takes place. It is as if a light bulb is turned on and they gain confidence, have a deeper understanding of what is expected of them in the future and also what we as parents have experienced and accomplished in our careers. This in turn builds closer relationships with our children due to shared lives.

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