LACONIA — With a state and county unemployment rate at 2.3 percent, job positions are staying open for lack of qualified applicants.
A case in point is the local Boys and Girls Club.
The club has a building that it would like to use as a teen center, but it can’t find someone to run the program, said Chris Emond, executive director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire.
“We have had an open full-time position for a teen center director for a year now,” Emond said in an interview Tuesday. “Jim Holmes, who is the branch director, has been working feverishly to fill that position.”
Once he does, the club at 876 N. Main St., will open a teen center in a building it owns next door, called the Parsonage House, which has been renovated and is ready for occupancy.
The salary range is $25,000 to $32,000.
The applicant should be someone with an associate’s degree who is excited by the opportunity and is able to work until 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s a challenge working with teens,” Emond said. “We need someone who can relate well to that age group but is mature, professional and understands the role as coordinator.
“We’ve got to find the right person, someone who is really dedicated. Kids see right through you if you're ready to hit the door.”
The club offers teen programming now, but would benefit from having a dedicated space for this purpose, he said.
The programming is educational and recreational, but is also geared to the interests of the young people it serves.
“Every good director polls the students to see what their interests are,” Emond said. “Community service and projects are always good. They want a sense of belonging and being useful at something.”
Volunteer opportunities also provide something to work for and offer tangible accomplishments.
Many of those who use the teen programs began going to the Boys and Girls Club when they were younger. By having their own building, they are more likely to continue with the club, Emond said.
He would like to find somebody who is willing to stay long-term.
“Young people need consistency at that point of life,” he said. “We want someone who can make a commitment for being there for a while.
“Sometimes, someone will do a great job for six months, they get a following and then when they leave, half the teens are out the door.”
Holmes, director of the Laconia branch, said he has interviewed "a handful of applicants."
"I want someone who is dedicated, reliable and somewhat cool," he said. "They have to be kind of hip and know what's going on in the Internet and know what kids are into.
"We want the right person. If we have someone come in who is not satisfactory, we'd lose trust with the kids and the community."
The Laconia club serves about 150 young people daily during the summer. A preschool program is running at capacity with 16 children.
Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy, who owns a local gas station and convenience store, said he also has trouble filling positions.
“It’s very tough,” he said. “I was able to get two exchange students, but when they leave in August, I will be struggling.
“Everybody is too busy, working multiple jobs. It’s getting difficult looking for people. It’s a function of a strong economy.”
Since there are some people unwilling or unable to work, or who have given up the job search, an unemployment rate of 5 percent is often regarded as full employment, DeVoy said.
“And we are at 2 percent unemployment.”
Some people are experiencing difficulty finding someone to complete home repair projects.
“I need someone to repair a fence in the backyard,” he said.
DeVoy is still looking.
“I’ll have to reach out again,” he said.
Contact information for James Holmes, of Boys and Girls Club of Lakes Region: