According to The World Forum, there are 1.2 billion youth in the world aged 15 to 24. They comprise 17% of the world's population and 40% of the world's unemployed. As summer begins here in Montana, the the unemployment rate for youth age 16 to 24 ranges from 14% to just over 22%.

Aaron McNey is an economist with the Montana Department of Labor, who was drawing from statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"For individuals between 16 and 19 years old, the unemployment rate estimated to be about 22.4%, while those aged 20 to 24, the rate decreases to about 14.8%," McNey said. "In 2011 there were about 50,000 people between the ages of 16 and 19 in Montana, and only about half were actually in the labor force, and that breaks down to about 5500 who are unemployed. Of the 72,000 Montanans between the ages of 20 and 24, 8200 are unemployed."

McNey said the unemployment rates drop dramatically with the increasing level of education, so he encouraged young people to stay in school and attain the highest level of training possible to enhance their opportunities in the job market.

Montana Department of Labor Economist Aaron McNey

Saundra Long, Employment Services Supervisor with the Missoula Job Service, says jobs are available in Western Montana, but younger workers are competing with older people with more education and experience who are currently unemployed. Long said younger workers must prepare themselves for the competitive job market.

"One of the most important things we can do is help them with that first step of navigating the world of online applications," Long said. "Developing a resume is a challenge when you don't feel like you have a lot of experience to put down. We help them brainstorm by listing what kind of volunteer work they've done to help them develop a resume and a cover letter."

Online applications are one thing, but Long said helping young workers prepare for that first face-to-face interview is extremely important.

"We do practice interviews, which is an exceptional service to help them sit down and answer questions about your experience in customer service, and your lack of experience, which we can help coach the person through," Long said. "Face to face interviews are where the rubber really meets the road, and that's why our practice interviews have been incredibly successful."

Long emphasized personal appearance and promptness as important traits for a young job seeker.

"Personal appearance, showing up on time, and learning to customize your application materials are all important," Long said. " You really can't anymore create one resume and one cover letter, or your success rate is going to go down substantially. You need to customize your information to match the position you're applying for."

Finally, Long said to practice what she called 'the elevator speech'.

"Practice your elevator speech, where you say 'here's my resume, here's what I can offer your business, here's the experience I have working in your kind of business. I'd love to talk with someone about working here.'

The Missoula Job Service is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday,and more information is available on their website.

Saundra Long, Employment Services Supervisor with the Missoula Job Service

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