According to a new study, for many recent high school graduates choosing not to attend college, the hunt for employment has been getting tougher. With many of these graduates lacking full-time employment, the study strengthens the argument that schools should do better at preparing children for a college education.
“The vast majority of recent high school graduates who are not attending college have been left out of the workforce or even job training and frankly are struggling to survive. Typically, they are either unemployed entirely or working in part-time, temporary jobs that do not pay them enough to earn even a poverty-level income,” Professor Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center and a co-author of the study said in a press statement.
Van Horn, explained to The Huffington Post that recent high school graduates often don’t have advanced technological skills resulting in a lack of upward mobility. To make matters worse, he continued, due to the economic downturn, recent college graduates are taking the low-end jobs in retail, restaurants, sales and offices that used to be the domain of recent high school graduates.
According to the study, only 37 percent of graduates that graduated from 2006 to 2008 are employed full-time. That number dropped to 16 percent when the recession hit in 2009. The report states:
“About half of the recent high school graduates were able to obtain at least one full-time job since they graduated from high school, but as of the survey, only 30% report being employed full time. Most (nearly 90%) report being paid by the hour. The median hourly wage earned in the first job was only $7.50, a mere 25 cents above the federal minimum wage level... Most of these high school graduates' jobs - 75% - were reported as temporary positions. With this combination of temporary, low-wage work, it is likely that few of the recent high school graduates would have been able to earn an annual income of $10,890 to exceed the official federal poverty level for a single household.”
While many are debating whether a college education is worth it due to the high costs and potential debt students can incur, this adds fuel to the argument that high school students need to be properly prepared for college.
Many of the young people surveyed in the study, reported that they needed more education in order to get a good job. At the same time, of those who were not attending college, 79 percent see their first jobs as “getting by,” and only 17 percent see these jobs as a step toward a career.
“They're going to struggle to form families, to have housing, to be financially independent from their parents, to essentially achieve a family-sustainable income, unless they can get some form of post-secondary education,” Van Horn said to The Huffington Post.
These issues have been the driving force behind many education reform efforts. For example, one of the main criteria for states to get a No Child Left Behind waiver is to beef up their college preparation programs. College preparation, additionally, has become the driving force behind the adoption of Common Core Standards by many states across the country.
The study echoes the sentiments of education officials and politicians that it is only through higher education that the economy can be repaired.
“If the country is going to be successful, you need to have a smarter workforce, and you need to have a better educated workforce that fills the jobs available and also creates new enterprise,” Van Horn said to The Huffington Post.
Nancy Swanson is a writer for 360 Education Solutions