MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor — Pamela Evette — has teamed up with Dan Ellzey, the executive director for the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce to promote youth employment in the state.

They met with businesses across the state to address what many said they are experiencing: a shortage of workers and employees lacking soft skills. Businesses have been wondering how to get kids involved in filling the shortages.

“Once kids graduate from college, businesses, employers are saying that kids have no soft skills,” Evette said. “They don’t know that they need to get to work on time, they don’t understand why they don’t get vacation all summer long. These are things that they learn in their first job and so director Ellzey and I with the Department of Employment and workforce we got together and said what are we gonna do to get our kids encouraged?”

They are traveling around the state talking to businesses and hearing from kids first hand what they are learning from their first jobs. Evette said there are some traits that come up more than others.

“Really what we are hearing overwhelmingly across the state is that it’s increasing confidence,” she said. “Isn’t that what we want for our kids? We’ve seen that during COVID kids are lacking confidence, they’re depressed, they have anxiety. They come out here, they learn to talk to adults, they learn to talk to other kids, they learn conflict resolution. As a real bonus parents want us to teach fiscal responsibility in the classroom — we hear them cheering when we talk about it — but how do you teach fiscal responsibility to someone who has never had a job?”

Evette said when teenagers have jobs it allows them to understand what is being given up to make a dollar and how long it takes to get what they want.

“We keep hearing over and over again about kids finding themselves in trouble when they get out of college with high student loan debt,” she said. “A lot of that is because none of them really worked and they didn’t know or realize the magnitude of what they were signing on to. When you’ve worked and you’ve had your first job you do understand that.”

“We are encouraging parents to get their kids working,” she said. “This is the secret sauce to success to set your children up through life.”

She said there are many types of jobs are out there for young people. She encourages people to think creatively with the jobs they pursue. Not every job needs to be retail or food service.

“When you expose them to more you give them the idea that anything they want to do there’s probably a niche out there that could become a lifelong career path for them,” Evette said. “You can’t find that at home, you can’t find that buried inside your telephone or playing on a videogame, you have to be out here living life and understanding how much we have to offer right here in South Carolina.”

Evette and Ellzey want to fill the needs of employers and employees.

“We need our employers to be happy and we need them to be prosperous, and if they are then we are as a state and we want our kids to get what they need too,” she said. “Everybody’s a winner in this deal.”

Evette said many parents often think there are age limits to working, but there are a lot of jobs a 15-year-old can hold. She said parents can reach out to SCDEW for more information on guidelines for teenage employment and jobs that are available across the state.