Celebrating Youth Employment Month in June
June is an exciting month in Michigan as we come together to celebrate Youth Employment Month. This initiative, supported by Governor Whitmer and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), aims to highlight the importance of youth employment and the valuable skills young individuals can acquire through summer job opportunities. By connecting youth with meaningful employment experiences, we can help them build a strong foundation for their future careers. Adding younger employees to the workforce is beneficial to both businesses and the youth.
The main objective of Youth Employment Month is to raise awareness about the benefits of youth employment and encourage businesses to include young individuals in their employment plans. By celebrating this month, we hope to emphasize the positive impact that summer jobs can have on the lives of our youth, as well as the long-term benefits for both businesses and the community as a whole.
While many employers recognize the value of experienced workers, there is often a lack of awareness regarding the benefits of including youth in their employment strategies. Youth bring a unique perspective and innovative ideas to the table, invigorating the energy and encouraging a spirit of continuous improvement. Young workers may possess some skills, like technology and digital awareness, that can prove to be invaluable in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Businesses may find that there is a connection with a young employee that could extend beyond summer employment into an ongoing work arrangement or future apprenticeship, ultimately supporting their long term talent pipeline. By investing in our youth, employers can shape the future workforce while enjoying the immediate benefits of a dynamic and diverse team.
Through our Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program (JMG), we interact with youth all year long, preparing them with a curriculum that is tailored toward career-focused skills and experiences. One of our program affiliates, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Southwest Michigan, Satanna Warren focuses on Workforce Development in a capacity similar to our specialist role. In her work, Warren helps club members explore a variety of career options. “It’s important to acknowledge June as Youth Employment Month because it raises the awareness of how important it is to be employed. It also helps our youth gain valuable work experiences,” said Warren. She continued to say, “Through our programs and through work experiences, young people learn basic employment skills like being on time for work, being courteous, respectful, showing up, and being responsible. These skills will serve them well throughout their life.”
Jeff Lohman teaches career readiness through our JMG program at Muskegon High School. Lohman said “through this program, kids get to experience a variety of career options including trade schools, apprenticeships and jobs that require two and four year degrees.” Developing connections with the youth helps Lohman to build trust, getting to know the program participants, understanding their family situation and even identifying their individual passions helps him steer his students in the direction that could be right for them. “They don’t realize the different options that are out there. We did a field trip downtown that explored careers in law enforcement. They didn’t know about central dispatch, the crime lab or the people taking the ticket payments. The students in this program experience these options firsthand,” said Lohman.
Working together with the Harbor Shores Golf Club and Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club, Stephannnie Harvey-Vandenberg, of Whirlpool Corporation, has designed the Summer Youth Golf Careers and Development Program that provides youth within the 49022 zip code an opportunity to experience jobs within and surrounding the golf industry. “We realize that it may be a challenge for underrepresented communities to include youth in these spaces. First Tee introduces children to life skills through the game of golf. We take it one step further to promote careers within the golf industry,” said Harvey-Vandenberg.
Using a philosophy similar to that which is the foundation of our JMG program, the Summer Youth Golf Careers and Development program initially provides youth with an opportunity to learn about the different types of roles within the golf industry. “A lot of young people think they want to be a professional basketball or football player or even a professional golfer. But what they may not realize is that there are many different types of careers associated with those industries, so if you aren’t able to play a sport for a living, there are many opportunities surrounding those sports where you can make a good living,” said Harvey-Vandenberg. Through this program, the youth involved learn about a variety of different roles from food & beverage, caddying, groundskeeping and customer service.
We are proud to share that 37 youth who participate in our JMG program at Benton Harbor High School will be offered employment at the golf course all summer, making $15 or more working full time. Not only will they be gaining valuable experience, but they will also be making a nice wage working in this summer program.
Providing opportunities for Michigan’s youth to gain essential skills through summer employment benefits both the business as well as the young workers. Michigan’s Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) agencies have resources to help both youth and businesses make the most of Youth Employment Month. We’re proud to provide career-focused educational opportunities for youth ages 11-24 all year long. Stay tuned to our future newsletters to learn more about youth employment across the entire state of Michigan.