I did a very important thing this week.
I crossed the great gap from being a carefree kid to being an adult.
The transformation occurred in about one minute, the minute I got and accepted a job offer.
Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of jobs before. But this job is different. In this job I don't have to ask people if they need a bag to put that in, I never make change and there is no heavy lifting or physical labour involved. I don't have to do five minute check backs, I don't prepare any food stuffs and I could care less how someone is enjoying their meal.
Berry and weed picker, server, barrista, tractor operator, day camp leader, secretary, sales rep/cashier--I've had almost every low paying job at one time or another. Even with this job history and more than two years of post-secondary education, I was amazed at just how difficult--well, damn near impossible--it was to find this first "real" job.
Employers are always looking for potential employees who possess specific job skills obtained through previous work experience, skills that any student with a history of part time and summer jobs can provide. Multitasking (serving 10 tables simultaneously), teamwork (coaching 30-some hyper kids in a sports camp), technological skills (modern tractors have more buttons, levers and screens than any computer I've used), self starter (ever had the stamina and drive to weed row after row in the blazing July sun without quitting).
In the last six months, the number of interviews that went cold after the potential employer sees that I have no "applicable" job experience is overwhelming. The fact is that the job experience that students have, as crappy and low paying as those jobs may be, require skills that are highly applicable to other "real" jobs. But many employers refuse to look past the fact that a student has no corporate experience.
When it comes down to it, human capital is any company's most important asset; without reliable employees, there is no way that a company can be successful. Without the human capital to back it up, even the most well thought out business plan will fail. It's as simple as that.
Students are ready and willing to provide that human capital. It is up to the employers to look past age and lack of corporate experience, and to give students a chance to transfer job skills to a new business environment.
Students will work twice as hard to prove themselves capable, if given that initial and vitally important opportunity to advance out of the realms of the so called unskilled labourer--I know I will.