Improvement for summer job prospects |

Improvement for summer job prospects

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune U.S. Forest Service information specialist Sarah Marshall cleans up around the Taylor Creek Visitors Center on her first day of work Thursday.

Parallel with a slow ascent in the California job market, Lake Tahoe businesses and agencies are preparing for a slight increase in the number of summer jobs over last year.

But it’s hardly something to write home about.

The California Employment Development Department forecasts state employment in 2004 will grow by 1 percent, adding 142,000 jobs.

Workers with mathematical and computer skills should fare better, as EDD predicts the professions to see the largest growth out of 14.8 million people – 4.2 percent.

The jobless rate in El Dorado County was 5.6 percent in April.

While the mean annual wage stands at $39,883 here, food-preparation workers make less than half that. They include cooks, bartenders, dishwashers and waitresses.

Ironically, the EDD reports the latter falls within the category of having the largest growth of jobs this year.

From the Marriott to Taylor Creek, seasonal workers are applying for jobs scattered through the classified pages of the Tahoe Daily Tribune and beyond.

Some have taken their quest to a recruitment agency. Others have returned to places based on reputation and rapport from previous years.

Most come to Tahoe with a special experience in mind.

“I love the outdoors. It’s really an opportunity to teach to another audience,” said Sarah Marshall, a substitute teacher who returned to the Forest Service Thursday to work at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

The gates swing open May 29 for the holiday weekend traffic.

Marshall has worked at Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, so she served as an ideal fit for the center’s unique environment and onslaught of inquiries.

Each year, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit significantly beefs up its level of employees over the summer months because of the seasonal nature of the LTBMU’s restoration work, encompassing watersheds, trails and fire protection.

Along with interpretive services, fire management gets 20 workers.

Fire danger presents a special opportunity this year for low-income seniors and the disabled in a pilot program run under the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council’s federal grant program.

Workers will team up with volunteer firefighters to help residents clean up debris around homes. Substitute Personnel and Business Services of South Lake Tahoe will provide candidates for the program.

John Johnson said this year Tahoe employers appear to be on schedule in hiring for the summer. Last year, requests came later with late-spring weather disturbances. This year, Johnson expects a broad assortment of employees seeking work and companies looking for help.

As far as the wide span of demographics, the aging segment of the population is growing in proportion to the population, creating a cultural shift for the American work force.

“I feel there’s a job for everyone. But we’ve had luck with older applicants,” Johnson said, referring to job etiquette as an area where they excel over their younger counterparts.

“If they taught this in school, it would make an impact in how kids get jobs,” he said. Examples include dressing for success and reliability on the job.

Susan Main, president of PrimeStaff of America in Sacramento, agrees with the analysis based on her observations and knowledge gained from seminars.

“The (information technology) workers we get who are out of work after the dot-com bust comes with expectations that are killing them,” Main said.

She stresses the importance of “soft skills” – i.e. common courtesy, proper conduct at luncheons or even attendance at work – the things that help build business relationships

“That’s the biggest problem we have out there,” she said.

Her company puts on seminars that support mentorships from the 40-plus crowd.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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