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Colorado Springs job fair targets the young and inexperienced

April 3, 2014 Updated: April 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm
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No job experience? No problem.

Employers who showed up Thursday at a Youth Job Fair in Colorado Springs know they're dealing with an inexperienced pool of job candidates, and that's OK by them.

'That's actually one of the things we look for in a lot of them," said Carla Howell of Time Warner Cable, which provides Internet, cable TV and other technological services that often are second nature to a younger generation. 'When we share thoughts and ideas of what people are looking for from us, they (youthful workers) are usually the first who can tell us because they live it every day."

Time Warner was one of more than 40 employers attending the Governor's Summer Job Hunt program, put on by the Pikes Peak Workforce Center. Others were scheduled to be there, but the snow kept them away.

Most employers recognize that when they give a young person that first job, they're providing an education in responsibility, social skills, and a work ethic.

Stephen Rollins of 7 Summits Roofing was looking for canvassers Thursday to go door-to-door and establish future appointments for sales agents. He said the job teaches young workers several important lessons, such as how to accept rejection.

"It is going to teach you the reality of both business and life," Rollins said. "You are going to experience a lot of failure at this job and that teaches you to get back up - something we all have to learn how to do in life."

None of the 700 or so young people who showed up at the job fair are guaranteed a job, and ther were no on-the-spot hires. But the job fair, held since 1981, gives them a way to make contacts, perhaps submit an application and get a taste of job hunting.

About 80 of the students in attendance were from the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus. Senior Principal David Engstrom said the fair was a boon for the young job seekers because it put more than 40 employers in one room, making it easier for them to talk to prospective employers.

Engstrom said getting his students jobs is critical to helping them stay in school and learn about life.

"A number of our students did not make it in traditional high schools," he said, "and we believe getting them employed and teaching them work skills is a way to help them in education."

There's also a paycheck that makes a job alluring, but for some students, employment can be a life-saver.

Nicole Watkins, 17, said she wants that first job to help her stay off drugs.

A student at Pikes Peak Academy, Watkins was standing with a school chaperone inside the Double Tree on Thursday when she spoke about her desire to find a job, stay clean and start creating her future. Watkins, who previously has worked at her stepfather's landscape business, now wants to earn money for college and get experience to keep her out of trouble.

"If I am going to school and I have a job," she said, "I won't have time for all that."

The nation's youth have had trouble finding employment in the past several years as the economy has forced older workers to stay in the labor force longer. Still, those seeking work at the job fair seemed unconcerned about the economy, their inexperience and the need to prove themselves to future employers.

"I want my job to teach me something new and expand my horizons and give me different experiences," Watkins said.


Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275

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