LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - It's getting tougher for teens to find employment. A recent study shows the number of job opportunities for teens is at an all-time low.
The study, done by the Brookings Institution, said the employment rate for teens 16-19 is the lowest percentage since World War II. But local businesses and high schools are trying to get teens the jobs they're looking for.
High school student Mai Vang is searching for her first job.
"I think age plays a really big part in trying to find a good job," Vang said.
Today Vang has her first interview, but not many teens are as lucky as Vang.
From 2000 to 2011, the number of jobs for teens between 16 and 19 has decreased nearly 20 percent.
Staff at Onalaska High School is trying to do their part to increase the number of teens in the workforce.
"We have a jobs board. So that's a place where employers can let us know if there's job openings that are available for young people and also a place where students can go to see if there are jobs that they might like to apply too," John Horman, Onalaska High School counselor, said.
Horman said students are involved in a lot of activities, which can limit a teen's availability to find work.
But one local employers says that's a quality he looks for in an applicant.
"I actually look for people that are involved in more things because it actually shows that they have the initiative to do things, that they're a busy person and as an employer you just have to understand, you know what, work is not their life, life comes first," Chris Schaller, general manager at Pettibone Resort, said.
Festival Foods said they hire quite a few teenagers and a lot of the time, it's their first job. But the store tries to make the process as easy as they can for applicants.
"We help them through the interview process. We make sure that we help them with the questions they may struggle with that we ask during our interview process," Dani Stuhr, HR supervisor at Copeland Avenue Festival Foods, said.
And that type of support is what Vang hopes she gets during her interview.
"The thing I'm nervous (about) is trying to answer the questions to the best of my abilities," Vang said.
The study suggests that schools need to focus more effort into work-based learning such as internships. It also says high schools need to better prepare students for college coursework by offering early college level programs.
The study looked at youth in the top 100 metro areas in the country. It found that 1.8 million teens are underutilized, which means they are either looking for work, want a job but aren't looking, or have a part-time job but would like a full-time position.
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