High School-Aged Workers Make Big Summer Comeback Amid Tight Labor Market
High school students participate in Capital Region BOCES’s culinary program (left) and global fashion program with a retail window display project at the Colonie Center.
Amid a tight labor force and abundance of summer job openings, high school-aged workers are leading the area in not only returning to – but also exceeding – their pre-pandemic employment. And Capital Region BOCES is sending even more students into the job market as the program builds out its work-based learning platform, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s QWI Explorer.
In the third quarter of 2021, there were 10,287 employed 14 to 18 year olds in the five-county Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA). That was an increase of 10.6 percent from the pre-pandemic level (Q3 2019) and the highest Q3 employment for this age group in 13 years. The Glens Falls MSA (Warren and Washington counties) also saw a 29 percent increase in 14-18-year-old employment to 2,079, also a 13-year high.
In the Albany metro in Q3 2021, the only other age group exceed its pre-pandemic employment level (Q3 2019) was for 65 years old and up, but only by 1 percent. The metro’s declines during that two-year period were as steep as 9.6 percent among 19 to 21 year olds and 7.1 percent for 45 to 54 year olds.
In the Albany metro, the sector in which high school-aged workers were getting the most extra jobs were retail trade (up 48 percent from Q3 2019), mostly at grocery and general merchandise stores. The other major gaining sector was accommodation and food services (up 23.7 percent), mostly at restaurants. In the Glens Falls metro, 14-18-year-old retail trade employment was up 40.7 percent and up 50.2 percent in accommodation and food services.
Capital Region BOCES offers programs in Retail and Office Services and several in hospitality such as Culinary Arts Tech Prep in which high school seniors can earn college credit and certification through the American Culinary Federation (ACF) ACCESS program.
Capital Region BOCES Culinary Instructor Paul Rother reports having several seniors working in the field, including Track 32 in Selkirk, Pizza works and Burnt Hills Cafe in Burnt Hills, Yanni’s Restaurant in Ravena, The Boat House in New Baltimore.
“We could not send students out during COVID. but we have started to send students at the end of this year and plan to continue to send students out into the workforce next year as we grow our Work-Based Learning platform. Students in all programs, Food Service, Culinary 1 and Culinary 2, at each grade level are able to participate. So, they start right at 11th grade with these opportunities into 12th grade. And then what we hope is for these connections to lead to job opportunities for the students after graduation,” said Erica Weakly, another Capital Region BOCES culinary instructor.
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