May 3rd officially kicks off the start of the 2018 tourist season in Ketchikan. It’s the busiest time of the year for the people of Ketchikan and students at Kayhi play a crucial role in the tourism industry during the summer.
John Malouf owns several tour companies in the summer where he benefits from employing Kayhi students in the summer.
“It would definitely make my job harder without them working for me,” said Malouf. “They do quite a lot. I hire quite a few high school kids as dock reps, salespeople, and tour guides. They are usually great employees who represent the company name well.”
Students work in a variety of different locations revolving around tourism. Anywhere from selling Ketchikan merchandise, candy, popcorn, trinkets, and working for tour businesses, many students work as crossing guards in the summer as well. During the month of May, students are still attending school. It’s hard for students participating in spring sports to be able to focus on work and compete at the same time.
Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon said most of the high school students have the qualities they are looking for.
“We can’t load up on high school students or we wouldn’t have enough people for the months of May and September,” said Corporon.
Workers starting off crossing guards will make $14 an hour and work around nine hours a day. Without high school students, businesses would have to raise the starting pay to make the jobs appeal to adults, which can be kind of hard noting that the starting pay is already $14 an hour.
“If high school students were not available in the summer to help fill out our roster we would likely have to look at offering a higher wage in order to attract more quality adults and college-age applicants,” said Corporon.
Being a crossing guard isn’t the most exciting job. It involves a lot standing in the same place in the rain for long periods of time, therefore it would hard to recruit workers from the lower 48. Without students working, jobs like this would be hard to fill.
“Some of the tour companies recruit college students and young adults from the lower 48 looking for an adventurous Alaskan job experience for the summer,” said Corporon. “They often even provide housing for them. We would not be in a position to be offering housing and I doubt Port Security and crossing guard positions would be perceived as ‘adventurous’ so raising our starting pay is all we could realistically do.”