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Opinion: When should youth start working?

The problem is that most businesses won’t even give you the time of day if you’re under 16.
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Do you think employers should be more willing to hire young locals for the summer? Have you hired a young worker? We want to hear from you: [email protected].

I always look forward to summer because it’s time away from school and a chance to be lazy. My friends have the same idea, but I wonder if we’re getting it wrong.

Let’s face it: jobs are a fact of life. Sure, some people may never work a day, but most have to get up and work just to pay the bills.

When do we, as youth, need to start working? Take a moment to think of five reasonable jobs — and by “reasonable,” I mean a minimum wage job with decent working conditions, respectful management, proper training and some hours per week — that a 14-year-old could do this summer.

My friends and I argue that there aren’t enough jobs for younger youth. It’s not that we’re being picky. We know we won’t find “the perfect job” at our age, but we won’t find anything if we sit around and wait.

The problem is that most businesses won’t even give you the time of day if you’re under 16. I applied for my first job in Grade 8. I walked in with hope and a resume that I was proud of. A year and a half later, I still haven’t heard back. How did that make me feel? Rejected. Demoralized. Unmotivated.

So, does this mean that 16 is when we should start working?

I did get a job in Grade 8. Thankfully, I was hired on the spot at a different business. Since then, I’ve earned some good money and learned how to save and keep track of monthly spending expenses such as cell phone bills.

Jobs provide valuable skills and lessons that can’t be learned at school or home because they are an introduction to the real world. Some of the skills I have learned in the workplace will stay with me for life. If we only begin to learn these skills at age 16, we might not have enough time to be able to fully develop them by the time we go off to college.

How will we manage tuition and living expenses, including entertainment and food (which can add up quickly)? Spoiler alert: it’s not possible without financial knowledge.

Take this as an example. Dave Grohl spent the first paycheck that he received with Nirvana in 24 hours. He blew a $400 paycheck within 24 hours on just three items, a pellet gun, Nintendo, and a tattoo, because he was so excited and didn’t know what else to do.

Now, if age 14 is when we should start working, then we need to create more opportunities for youth employment. Even if it’s just a two-hour shift a week to allow us to get comfortable in the workforce, it’s still something.

Squamish employers, give us a chance. We’re good kids. We’re reliable. We’re eager and ready to work. Let us show you that we are capable. All we’re asking for is a couple of words in return: you’re hired.

Grant Boguski is a Squamish 14-year-old French immersion student who also serves on the Squamish Youth Council.

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