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Tough times: Greeley youth job fair draws 1,500

Sherrie Peif
Greeley, CO, Colorado

GREELEY, Colorado – A tough job market is a tough job market, even when you’re 14.

More than 1,500 teens and young adults recently found out firsthand just how tough finding a summer job this year is going to be.

Marie Llamas, a coordinator for Employment Services of Weld County, said finding businesses to come out for last week’s Teen Job Fair wasn’t an easy task.

“Most said they had enough people coming to them for work,” Llamas said. “People are knocking on their doors, and they have the cream of the crop to choose from. They’d prefer to hire older workers, and they have a lot to chose from.”

This year’s fair featured about 20 companies that were willing to hire teens and young adults from ages 14-21. That’s down from a high of 40 companies the past several years.

The companies were looking for people to do everything from sell Avon to enlist in the Army.

“We figured the city of Greeley would be our only option, but we wanted to be here just in case,” Jennifer Martin said about her daughter’s experience. “And we were right. I was not surprised that there is not a lot for 14-year-olds, but I am surprised at how many booths there actually are.”

Martin said she expected the economy to affect the fair even more than it did.

But even with the lack of availability, Martin’s daughter, Amanda, was able to find a couple of jobs with the city that sounded like fun.

“I’m trying to save to buy a car,” Amanda said. “I just wanted to find something. I found the FunPlex and the museum.”

Many of the companies at the fair said they look forward to the event each year because they have had good luck with the teens they’ve hired in the past.

“We came back because last year we found seven kids that all were excellent,” said Aubrey Weiland, a research associate for Syngenta Seeds. “That encouraged us to come back.”

Other employers, such as the Greeley Police Department, were there to recruit for future years.

“We’re here more to tell kids what they need to do between now and when they turn 21 if they want a career in law enforcement,” officer Jim Henkel said. “Many don’t realize it starts now with clean driving records and not getting into trouble. They can start volunteering, doing ride-alongs and internships, all those things that are stepping stones in getting a start in law enforcement.”

Llamas said the employment agency will work with the city’s Summer Teen Employment Program and the kids throughout the summer to help them find work. All the teens were screened as they came through the door and their demographics will go into a database that the agency will use to pair up employers with employees as jobs become available.

“It’s not just this one big event,” Llamas said. “There is constant follow-ups until they go back to school in August.”


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