Despite some easing of recent economic pains, things are still tough for Carroll County students seeking summer jobs.
"It's as tough, if not tougher, for the summer job applicants," said Michael Bixler, an employer services representative with the Carroll County office of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development. "The economy hasn't turned around the way people would like it to."
His program, a job registry for high school students, and two county Job Training Partnership Administration (JTPA) programs placed fewer teen-agers than usual this summer. Mr. Bixler said he registered about 250 students interested in summer work during his annual visits to the five county high schools this spring. Unlike other county programs, any student is eligible to register for these jobs.
"As long as they're interested in summer work, we'll take them," he said. "They have to be 15. It's very difficult to place students who are under 15."
About 80 students will have been placed through the program this summer, primarily at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, he said. The center employs students as nursing aides, dietary aides, groundskeepers and clerical workers.
"We've had better years," Mr. Bixler said of his success in placing students. "The last four or five years, with the economy, we haven't placed as many as we used to.
"A lot of students start looking for summer jobs very early in the calendar year. Also, students who successfully find work in a job one year are often called back the next year for the job."
In contrast, the county JTPA office had twice as many openings as participants this year, said Elizabeth Treantofellow, who coordinates the summer jobs programs.
Of the 146 county students who initially applied for the two programs, only 56 followed through and were placed in jobs, she said. The students will work through Aug. 13.
"We scheduled for far more students than we had," Ms. Treantofellow said. "Those who followed through and completed the process were the ones that were employed."
Six county students are employed in the work crew program, which is new this year, she said.
Workers spend part of their time working on mathematics and English skills. The rest of the week is used in activities such as painting, building picnic tables or washing windows at Carroll County's senior citizen centers or reading to older residents.
"This experience combines the work experience and implements the educational component on the work site and in the computer lab," Ms. Treantofellow said. "They actually apply what they are learning to the jobs they are doing."
The remaining students are working at Carroll County offices or nonprofit organizations, such as the county government's day care center, libraries, schools or the Carroll County Farm Museum.
"The feedback I get from parents and students is that these are esteem-building programs," Ms. Treantofellow said.
"For most of the kids, this is their first job experience and it is very exciting for them. They are gaining marketable skills and learning many things about their county."
Students in JTPA programs must be 14 to 21 years old and fit the income, academic or physical eligibility criteria.
"If there is any barrier to their finding employment on their own for the first time in those factors, we consider them eligible for our program," Ms. Treantofellow said.
Both programs may have suffered from the Carroll County public schools closing later than usual for the summer this year, officials said.
"I think that possibly the college students had an advantage this year looking for jobs without the competition of the high school students," Mr. Bixler said.
Ms. Treantofellow said the late closure made starting her programs difficult.