Looks like teens ready to go to work

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Businesses looking for people to work is reality. No matter the reasons behind the worker shortage, it is affecting service and even businesses’ ability to operate at all. Some fear government benefits in the wake of the pandemic will do more than contribute to the dearth of workers in the short term. They see young people rejecting work, and fear for the future without the traditional American commitment to work.

But there is good news from Junior Achievement, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.

A new survey of teens conducted for JA by the research firm ENGINE Insights shows that two-thirds of 16- and 17-year-olds (68%) plan to work this summer. Nearly the same percentage of teens in that age group (69%) who planned to work in the summer of 2019, based on a similar survey taken pre-pandemic.

The 2021 survey of 1,002 13- to 17-year-olds was conducted by ENGINE Insights from May 6-13. The survey was not conducted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Summer jobs are a great way to introduce young people to the world of work and the importance of earning and managing money,” said Casey Pash, president of Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina. “These survey results show many teens are eager to have the experience of a first job. Hopefully, with the availability of vaccines, decline in the number of COVID cases, and proper safety measures in place, they will be able to do just that this summer.”

Other findings from the survey include:

• The top summer jobs teens expect to work are in retail (26%) and restaurants (26%), followed by landscaping/lawn-mowing and other outdoors work (19%) and babysitting/childcare (13%).

• Nearly all teens surveyed (90%) said that they plan to attend college after high school.

• Of those planning to attend college after high school, a quarter (27%) expect to take out student loans, while nearly the same percentage (28%) believe they will find some other way to pay for college. Nearly half (45%) are “not sure” if they will need to take out student loans or not.

• Two-thirds (68%) of all teens say they support “debt-free college” – or college that is free for all attendees. However, that percentage drops to only a third (32%) if it requires higher taxes to pay for it.

It seems that teens are more motivated to work than many believe. And they are aware that when it comes to education, there is no “free lunch.” Debt-free college would mean higher taxes.

As to where teens plan to work this summer, retail and restaurants are surely glad to see the survey results. So many businesses need their help.

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