One of the state's biggest single-location employer of teens in Indiana is Holiday World, a theme park in southern Indiana. Most of the 2,100 seasonal jobs to be filled there this summer will be filled with high school and college students.
Competition for those jobs is keen. Paula Werne, the park's communications director, said the single most important attribute hiring managers will be looking for is "the right attitude."
"We're looking for teenagers with some maturity and some sense of what it means to work for a business and to represent that company to customers," Werne said. That includes showing some discretion in the use of social media. Like many employers, Holiday World takes note of what its young employees post on Facebook and Twitter.
The lack of jobs for teenagers is worrisome to people like Bill Stanczykiewicz, the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. Stanczykiewicz cites a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from July 2011, which said only 49 percent of teens were employed in July 2011, the lowest percentage of teens in summer jobs since 1948.
"It's more than just having extra money to put gas in your tank or to go to movies," Stanczykiewicz said. "Teens without jobs are losing out on the things you learn in a job to get and keep a job: those 'soft skills' that teach you how to work for and with other people."
Stanczykiewicz has issued a call to employers around the state, asking them to consider giving a teenager a job this summer, even if its just for a few weeks or a few hours each week.
His pitch: It's an investment in Indiana's future. He cites a study by the Center for Workforce Innovations in northwest Indiana that found employers said they're in need of workers who have a positive attitude, know how follow directions, dress appropriately, manage time well, and who are honest and dependable.
Those are the skills that teen workers can acquire on the job to carry them into a career, Stanczykiewicz said. "You don't really learn how to work until start to work."
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org