Job-seeking teens crowd Kingston Youth Job Fair

A job-seeker fills out an application. (Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)

A job-seeker fills out an application. (Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)

The days of abundant jobs for teens have gone the way of the dodo. Here in 2013, young workers are competing with grownups for the scarce opportunities to earn a paycheck. It’s in this context that the Ulster County Workforce Investment Youth Council hosted their fifth annual job fair Tuesday for kids 16-21. Over 25 local business employers handed out applications for over 100 teens and young adults for seasonal, part-time and full-time entry-level positions.

Nancy Schaef, director of the Workforce Development Board Office of Employment and Training, said after conducting the job fair for over five years, they better understand that since kids are now competing against adults for the same positions, the days of walking into a business and getting a job are gone. Businesses are looking for resumes to spell out a person’s skill set.


Kids clustered in the One Stop Center building sported various spectra of clothing (ranging from torn sweatpants to shirt and tie), hair styles, body language and backgrounds.  Nineteen-year-old stay-at-home mom Tiana Jackson Drake of Kingston and 18-year-old Dutchess Community College business student Elisa Moses, both of Kingston, sprawled out on the floor in a quiet hallway to focus on their applications to Rondout Savings Bank and Family of Woodstock Kingston Cares program.

The girls said these days applying for jobs is done online, so they regularly cruise and “I feel like no one really cares,” said Moses, who said the sites require a resume and creating a profile, which is a hassle barely worth the return. “It wasn’t that helpful. They never call back or even reply.” Both girls concurred that going straight to the company’s website nets better results, and is the means how Moses got her current retail job.

Prior to the job fair, OneStop offered on-the-spot counseling and resume-writing for prospective employees to learn how to navigate through an application and to have something in hand for the fair.

First break not easy to get

Ramel Fitzgerald, 16, of Kingston said the first time he filled out an application he found the “Previous Work Experience” part to be the most challenging. “I didn’t know what to do,” he said, and admitted it never occurred to him to include all his experience babysitting.

Susie Lopes, operations manager of the local Courtyard by Marriot said that she is willing to give a newbie with no work experience a chance but the ability to provide good customer service is crucial. Lopes spread out a table and collected almost 30 applications for six available positions in the facility’s new expanded restaurant, Starbucks and bar.

Lopes’ philosophy of training has become less common, according to Schaef. “Businesses don’t have to hire those kids anymore. We have to do the training. Businesses won’t do it anymore.”

Schaef said that the initiative to provide a “well-trained workforce” comes from County Executive Mike Hein’s office and is intended to help keep businesses in the area.

Slideshow image: Tiana Jackson Drake, left, and Elisa Moses fill out job applications. (Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)