As some American workers are still reeling from losing a job and others continue to work years after their planned retirement, others in the younger generation struggle to get their foot in the door.
A study released by the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board revealed about 22 percent of college-aged Washingtonians were unemployed early in 2010. That's more than twice as high as the unemployment rate for adults aged 25-64.
"The recession-battered job market has left many Washington young adults, 18-24, unable to land their first job, a critical milestone for effective transition to adulthood," the report reads.
Of the nearly 260,000 Washington students who are in school, 54 percent are not working.
"Many students don't need or want to work but about 48,000, or 29 percent of young adult students, are looking for work and not finding it," the study reads.
What's worse is the number of Washington youth who are neither in school nor employed -- about 75,700 of the 655,700 young people in Washington, or about 13 percent.
The struggle to find a job is certainly felt locally, said Stefanie Unda, a Career Development program coordinator and career counselor at Washington State University. Unda's and her co-worker's offices are crowded daily with concerned students seeking advice on how to battle a reluctant job market.
"Something many students think about is maybe staying in school until the market improves or looking at graduate school as a place to hide out till things look up," Unda said.
That's why Unda, and other local job service agencies, are searching for new ways to help the unemployed clients they serve.
Unda is setting up a Washington Career Development Colloquium, scheduled for April 28, with employment assistance offices, local high school officials, WSU veterans affairs staff and the Institution for Extended Learning.
"The goal of it is to connect career development professionals across Washington, especially across eastern Washington," Unda said. "(So we can) better help clients to establish their career goals and realize them."
During the colloquium, Unda hopes job service agencies will learn what other resources they can use to assist clients in their career goals.
Paul Sturm said Pullman schools also are working to make local students more marketable by creating real-life situations in the classroom.
"There's the culminating project, or the senior project, and I think that's a way to give students an opportunity to work in the community with an adult mentor," Sturm said. "There's also vocational programs that give kids the opportunity to begin experiencing relevant work-related career experiences."
Unfortunately, thanks to national and statewide pressure in the last decade to increase standardized test scores, focus on such real-life related lessons has decreased. Sturm said while real life lessons have been challenged by test score goals, the schools continue to offer job skill-related lessons -- both in extracurricular activities and in classrooms.
"We're really cognizant of the need to develop a whole person by the time they get out of school," he said. "Do we do that? To the extent that's possible, yes."
To read the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board study, visit www. wtb.wa.gov/Documents/WantedWorkExperienceForYoungAdults.pdf
Sarah Mason can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 234, or by e-mail to smasondnews.com.
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(c) 2011, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho
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