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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

‘Career-ready’ at 18? It’s a myth

In the 21st century, the “career-ready” 18-year-old high school graduate is a myth, write Anthony P. Carnevale, who directs the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, and colleagues Andrew R. Hanson and Megan Fasules.

“For today’s students to be prepared for tomorrow’s jobs, all pathways must lead to a credential with labor-market value, such as a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree,” they write in The Conversation.

Since 1983, high schools have eliminated vocational tracks and added academic requirements, they write. Few high school students take enough career-tech education (CTE) to make a difference when they reach the workforce, they write.

Unlike the vocational programs of the past, CTE is available to a wide range of students and “is much less likely to be accused of tracking by race, class and gender,” they write.

But students typically learn “skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and self-management,” rather than job skills.

. . . a handful of states, like Delaware and Tennessee, are successfully developing pathways to in-demand careers. Middle-school students are exploring careers that suit their talents and interests. High-school students are gaining employability skills and practical work experience in career fields so that they are ready to shop for postsecondary programs in their junior year.

Half of young adults are failing to successfully launch their careers,” Georgetown’s research has found. Those who don’t earn bachelor’s degrees need to earn vocational credentials that lead to middle-class jobs.

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