Fewer and fewer young adults (adolescents) are working as part of early adulthood experience (Childs Trends—Database Dec. 2015).   Taking into account reductions in the younger workforce as a result of the recession of 2008, youth return to work has been slow to modest for ages 16-24 during the years of recovery. More surprising is the fact that over the last 20 years fewer and fewer young adults are taking advantage of learning in the workplace. Presently only 1 out of 2 young adults will have work experience prior to age 24, a decrease of over 10% over the past 2 decades. The numbers beg many questions, why are fewer youth interested in working or not encouraged to work???

Controlling for economic variables, there appears to be less value placed on having formal work experience. The Department of Labor identifies two (2) key concepts when it comes to experience of young adults at work—Learning Work Maturity & Development Work-related Skills. As parents, our encouragement to pursue work becomes support for the development of our children. Although somewhat “old-school”, lessons learned through work augment and support more formal learning. The blending of academic development and work related readiness fosters the development of a mature and self-assured young adult.   Any opportunity for employment for an adolescent is fertile ground for learning about self and others.

Have a talk and make sure you clearly communicate the value of work

Regardless of position. It is recommended to keep the conversation about parent employment expectations simple. Start with the immediate-term positives—independence that comes with having money, unique personal experience and a chance to move into adulthood. Avoid the trapping—need time to recharge, most youth don’t have to or want to work (incorrect over 50% do work) and I have more important things to do. THE BOTTOM LINE: young people who work are taking steps toward bettering their future through tangible experience.   Encouragement goes a long way Mom and Dad, the first step is helping the young adult in your home to overcome resistance to trying something new.

Article by Dr. Timothy J. Giannoni (Ed.D, MS, MBA, LAPC)
Psychotherapist working for Thriveworks-Marietta, GA specializing in adolescent services

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