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Boston high school students face job competition

In a city surrounded by college students, high schoolers in Boston struggle to compete with older, more qualified applicants in the part-time job market.

“When we are hiring, we tend not to hire high school students,” said Steve Silverman, owner of Ecco Pizzeria. “The older kids are more responsible, so we would hire college kids before we hire high school kids.”

With more than 30 colleges in Boston, businesses can easily draw from a large pool of readily available college students, ignoring high school students in the area due to legal issues.

John Pedican, human resource manager at Shaw’s Supermarket, said there are limitations if a business hires high school students.

“There are many laws that restrict high school students from having enough hours at a job,” he said. “Due to the administrative aspects of hiring students, like the laws, and the number of hours available, it is easier to staff college students.”

Some businesses will only hire college students or people who graduated from college with a degree.

Students in the Boston area with some high school education have lost 12,250 jobs since 2000, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on Oct. 1.

Despite losing 3,573 jobs since 2000, students with some college education saw a smaller decrease in jobs lost, according to the report.

“The fraction of jobs held by workers with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree has increased at the fastest rate of all educational levels in the past decade,” the report stated.

Sophie Williamson, the assistant general manager at Clear Flour Bread, said they hire many college students and those who already graduated from college.

“Since I’ve been here for four years, we have had no high school students working,” she said. “It’s harder to accommodate them.”

Williamson said she understands how difficult it must be to find a job in a competitive area such as Boston.

“When I was in high school, there were no colleges in the area, and I found a job very easily,” she said. “It does seem harder in Boston because there is more competition with college students.”

High school students at Boston Latin School said it is hard to find a job in college-dense Boston.

Flora Liu, a Boston Latin School senior, said she knows high school students who have part-time jobs, but the job market is very competitive.

“I would say that it’s definitely competitive to find a part-time job these days,” she said. “It’s especially hard in Boston, a huge school area with both high schools and colleges.”

Isabel Creamer, a BLS junior, said many of her friends are struggling to find jobs with the hours they want.

“We all want the same hours, but usually college kids are more qualified,” she said.

But other high school students said they did not have any difficulty finding a job.

BLS senior Jaemin Woo said he found a job easily and works at Between Hours, a café in Allston.

“Personally, it wasn’t that hard for me to find a job,” he said.

However, Woo said the Allston area is a very competitive place to find employment.

“At my work, most of the workers are college students,” he said.

Hannah Tran-Trinh, a senior at BLS, said she found her first job because of a connection.

“Strangely, it’s never been very hard for me to get a job,” she said. “My first hostess job was at a restaurant in Back Bay where my sister had worked prior to me.”

But Tran-Trinh, who works at Tico in the Back Bay, said she realizes she was lucky to find a job.

“I’m the only person I know my age who can easily find a job,” she said. “All of my friends have a lot of trouble finding jobs because no one gets their first job handed to them.”

Boston University students said it was fairly easy for them to get a job.

School of Management junior Max Hamburger worked at Boston Beer Works and said he did not have a lot of competition from high school students.

“The Fenway area doesn’t really have a ton of high school students in general and has a huge influx of college students,” he said. “I was really just competing with other undergrads and postgrads.”

College of General Studies sophomore Chad Stakutis, who worked at Sunset Cantina, said it was quite easy for him to get a job.

“I never had to worry about high school students taking my job because you have to be a certain age to work at some restaurants,” he said. “Especially in Boston, it is a lot easier for college students to get jobs because a lot of places specifically want older kids in these positions.”

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