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Careers for the Non-College Graduate

June 24, 2012

One of the biggest challenges schools face is preparing non-college preparatory students for the future. High school teachers and counselors do an admirable job of preparing students for college. They understand what it takes to get into college and what it takes to succeed in college because every HS guidance counselor and every HS teacher went to and graduated from college. But when it comes to preparing for careers that DON’T require a post-secondary degree, most educators— myself included— are often flummoxed.

A recent article in Eclassroom News reminded me of how difficult this challenge is today. The article reported on an initiative underway in six States that will “boost career training”, and then proceeds to describe an initiative that will address the reality that “…most jobs now require some higher education, just a third of those created in the coming years are expected to require a bachelor’s degree or higher. The same amount will need an associate’s degree or occupational credential.”  The emphasis of this particular initiative is to address the 1/3 of jobs that will require an associates degree or occupational credential.

Here’s the question I have: what are policy makers doing about the 1/3 of the workforce that will require neither a bachelor’s degree or higher nor an associate’s degree or occupational credential?”  These are the group of kids who drift through high school and show up on the doorstep of employers “unprepared to work”…. and they are the folks who are losing jobs to “over-qualified” college graduates and/or those with associate’s degrees who have been displaced by “over-qualified” college graduates. Engaging these students is challenging because it is unclear what public schools as they are organized today can do to help these students…. and engaging and preparing these students for the workforce is a far greater challenge than preparing students for jobs that require clear credentials.

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