Spring just arrived last week, but local employers are already turning their thoughts to summer employment and the challenges that go with it.
Companies and businesses typically start advertising for summer employment in late February or March, as most of them need time to train staff for positions such as lifeguards, day camp leaders and ride attendants, said Melissa O’Brien, business services manager of OhioMeansJobs Butler County.
“With unemployment rates low, summer employment is a great opportunity for employers to engage the emerging workforce,” O’Brien said. “This gives young adults who are on summer break an opportunity to explore new career paths.”
Since summer employment is typically seasonal, most companies do not offer incentives to fill positions, but they may offer incentives for current employees if they recommend a new hire, O’Brien said.
Kings Island may not be offering monetary incentives for summer hiring, but starting this May it will offer a new dormitory to employees who are at least 18 amd live 25 miles or more away from the Warren County amusement park.
The newly constructed lodging is just the latest example of the park getting creative to secure more hires.
“In recent years, we’ve had to offer more flexibility with schedules to work around the extra-curricular activities teens are involved in,” said Don Helbig, a spokesman for the park. “Bringing back WinterFest in 2017 has given a longer opportunity for employment during the year, and that’s helped attract more college students and adults looking to supplement their income.”
Helbig said Kings Island starts accepting applications in December and begins contacting qualified applicants and holding job fairs and open interviews in January.
“While the timeframe hasn’t changed in recent years, the number of hiring events we have has increased from two or three prior to the start of the season in April to six,” he said. “The increase in hiring events has provided more opportunities for individuals attending college out of town to come out to the park for an interview.”
But summer staff hiring isn’t the same as it used to be, Helbig said.
“There are literally hundreds of more job opportunities available now for teens and college students in the area than there were 10 to 15 years ago, combined with the decrease in unemployment,” he said. “There are also many more extra-curricular activities that high school students are involved in that carry over into the summer months such as sports that have to be worked around.
“It’s a much shorter summer for teens as a result of all of the activities they’re involved in that cuts into their availability.”
Seasonal jobs aren’t only a way for teens to earn pocket change and college students to pay for tuition. They’re also a way for long-term job seekers to pay the bills.
Tucker’s Whippy Dip, which opened in Mason in 1999, typically starts accepting applications around the time it opens for the season, according to Lesley Miller, one of its managers and a daughter of owners Jim and Linda Spaeth. But in recent years, it hasn’t actually hired new employees until mid-July because of numerous returning employees.
“July and August are probably the most difficult months because families go on vacations and college students go back to school,” Miller said. “Once school starts, it just becomes a balancing act. We’ve noticed a need to start hiring earlier this year, however, in an effort to get potential hires before they find a different opportunity.”
She said it’s been “a little more difficult” for Tucker’s Whippy Dip to do so in recent years because its target audience for employees is high school and college students.
“We always say we’re the perfect ‘first’ job — good to get your feet wet, practice communication skills and taking initiative,” Miller said. “Nowadays, kids are looking for career-related opportunities way earlier so summer internships have taken precedent.”
Also some students need a year-round job, so the idea of a summer position isn’t as appealing, she said.