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«A Resource Guide for Parents and Teens Developed and Compiled by the Youth Council of the DuPage Workforce Board A Letter to Parents: Your teen’s ...»

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Taking Time Off For some teens, taking a year off between high school and the "real world" can be beneficial. This can be a good time to travel, do community service, or even live in a foreign country before the responsibilities of life make it harder to do so. Community service organizations offer a wide variety of choices that teens can match with their skills and interests. Americorps, for example, offers hundreds of programs across the United States with a small stipend, plus a chance to obtain money for college or vocational training. Many religious organizations provide community service programs as well.

However, teens should keep in mind that a brochure may look different from reality, such as with work and service camps in developing countries. They should expect difficulties but know that the rewards of community service often outweigh the hardships — and can actually change the direction of a person's life. Speaking with previous participants should give a more realistic view than promotional material.

And taking time off doesn't necessarily put a teen at a disadvantage for college admission. For many teens — especially those who choose an internship or international service — it can actually be an advantage.

While researching colleges, find out if they have delayed admissions programs. If not, ask the colleges what their stance is on students who take time off and a teen's chances of getting in if he or she reapplies.

It's Your Teen's Life When the subject concerns the future, some teens may try to shrug it off. Here's how to get the ball

rolling and keep communication flowing:

Really listen to your teen and resist the temptation to provide unsolicited advice. If your teen is  struggling to make a decision, a story or two about a tough choice you had to make could be very reassuring.

Provide respect and support while giving up some control. Trying to direct your teen's future  probably won't be a benefit in the long run. This is the time for teens to develop decisionmaking and problem-solving skills.

Prepare your teen to be self-sufficient away from home. This includes making major decisions  regarding dating, drugs, alcohol, and sex, as well as mastering day-to-day living skills (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, and managing a budget).

Don't be afraid to set limits on how much you can financially support a teen who decides to  take time off. It's important for teens to learn independence.

Where to Get Help The Internet is a good starting point for researching information on your teen's interests. Also enlist the help of school counselors, who can help steer kids in the right direction or refer them to other good sources of information.

And don't overlook your local library. In addition to books and magazine articles on subjects of interest, the librarian can be a wealth of information.

There are many associations, both local and national, for thousands of occupations. Find out where they're located and get information how to pursue particular career paths.

Your teen may also be able to attend meetings or arrange to interview people at their workplaces to find out more about what they do. Make use of friends, relatives, or others you know in different industries. After all, there's often nothing more flattering than having someone ask about what you do.

Finally, resist the temptation to lecture and try to remain supportive and enthusiastic, even if your teen keeps changing his or her mind. Your teen needs your positive influence during this transitional time.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD Date reviewed: October 2013 Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.


 Career and technical education (CTE) prepares both youth and adults for a wide range of careers and further educational opportunities. These careers may require varying levels of education—including industry-recognized credentials, postsecondary certificates, and two- and four-year degrees.

 CTE is offered in middle schools, high schools, area career and technical centers, community and technical colleges, and other postsecondary institutions.

 According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, approximately 12 million students participated in secondary and postsecondary CTE programs supported by the Carl D. Perkins Act during the 2010-2011 school year.

 According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, almost all high school students participate in CTE, and more than half take three or more credits. About 60 percent of college students are involved in CTE programs, and more than 25 percent of the adult U.S. population participates in work-related training.

 CTE is at the forefront of preparing students to be “college- and career-ready.” CTE equips

students with:

 core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities  employability skills (such as critical thinking and responsibility) that are essential in any career area  job-specific, technical skills related to a specific career pathway  Within CTE, occupations and career specialties are grouped into Career Clusters®. Each of the 16 clusters is based on a set of common knowledge and skills that prepare learners for a full range of opportunities.

 Further specialization is achieved through comprehensive Programs of Study, which align academic and technical content in a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of secondary and postsecondary courses, and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level or an associate or baccalaureate degree.

 Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) are an integral part of CTE. CTSOs prepare young people to become productive citizens and leaders in their communities by providing unique programs of career and leadership development, motivation, and recognition for students enrolled, or previously enrolled, in CTE programs.

 CTE Increases Student Achievement:

 A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. (Plank et al., Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, 2005)  81 percent of dropouts said that “more real-world learning” may have influenced them to stay in school. (Bridgeland et al., The Silent Epidemic, 2006)  The more students participate in CTSO activities, the higher their academic motivation, academic engagement, grades, career self-efficacy, college aspirations and employability skills. (Alfeld et al., Looking Inside the Black Box: The Value Added by Career and Technical Student Organizations to Students’ High School Experience, 2007)  Students at schools with highly integrated rigorous academic and CTE programs have significantly higher achievement in reading, mathematics and science than do students at schools with less integrated programs. (Southern Regional Education Board, Linking Career/Technical Studies to Broader High School Reform, 2004)  CTE students are significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report that they developed problem-solving, project completion, research, math, college application, work-related, communication, time management, and critical thinking skills during high school. (Lekes et al., Career and Technical Education Pathway Programs, Academic Performance, and the Transition to College and Career, 2007)  CTE Meets Individual and Community Economic Needs:

 According to the BLS, of the 20 fastest growing occupations, 14 require an associate degree or less. Furthermore, of the 20 occupations with the largest numbers of new jobs projected for 2020, 18 require on-the-job training, an associate degree or a postsecondary credential. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition)  Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2011 manufacturing skills gap study indicated that they are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers overall—with 12 percent reporting severe shortages and 55 percent indicating moderate shortages. CTE plays a vital role in helping American business close this gap by building a competitive workforce for the 21st century. (Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, 2011)  A person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn an average of at least $4,000 more a year than a person with a humanities associate degree—and those with credentials in high-demand fields such as healthcare can average almost $20,000 more a year. (Jacobson et al., Pathways to Boosting the Earnings of Low-Income Students by Increasing Their Educational Attainment, 2009)  According to the state of Washington, for every dollar spent on secondary CTE students, taxpayers will receive $9 back. (Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, 2011 Workforce Training Results)

–  –  –

*Zero does not necessarily mean no jobs. Since jobs are rounded to the nearest thousand, zero means less than 500 jobs.

**Total jobs are a snapshot of the economy that shows where jobs are located by education type. They differ from job vacancies because total jobs are filled by people currently working in these positions who may not be leaving in the short-term to create a job opening.

–  –  –

By Bryan Goodwin Could the time-honored adage that there's no better investment than a college education no longer be true?

Recently, as many new college graduates have entered the labor market with big debts and weak job prospects, some economists have begun to wonder whether we may be witnessing the bursting of yet another investment bubble: higher education (Surowiecki, 2011).

With annual tuition at some colleges surpassing $50,000 and unemployment rates rising among college graduates, could the time-honored adage that there's no better investment than a college education no longer be true? By extension, should we revisit the "college-for-all" rallying cry of many education reform efforts?

Does a College Degree Pay?

Despite the current handwringing, college graduates still earn significantly more than nongraduates on average. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the difference in median lifetime earnings between college and high school graduates has widened in recent years, growing from 75 percent in 1999 to 84 percent in 2009 (Carnevale, Rose, & Cheah, 2011).

However, these averages mask important realities—namely, wide variances in lifetime earnings among college graduates. Those at the 25th percentile, for example, earn about $1.5 million over their lifetimes, whereas those at the 75th percentile earn $3.4 million. In fact, bottom-quartile college graduates actually earn less over their lifetimes than do high school graduates at the 75th percentile, who earn $1.9 million (Carnevale, Rose, & Cheah, 2011). Stated simply, a college diploma alone is no guarantee of more income.

The Forgotten Middle Comparing college graduates with high school graduates also overlooks another important part of the picture: middle-skill jobs that require a two-year degree, occupational license, or certification. Twoyear degree holders, especially in high-demand occupations, can earn salaries that surpass those of college graduates (Carnevale, Rose, & Cheah, 2011). To wit: 22 percent of workers with associate's degrees earn more than median bachelor's degree holders, and 14 percent earn more than median graduate degree holders (Carnevale, Strohl, & Smith, 2009).

Workers with two-year degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), in fact, have greater average lifetime earnings than college graduates in most other career areas.

Consider, for example, the lifetime earnings of these two-year degrees: computer software engineers ($3.0 million); aircraft mechanics ($2.3 million); and electricians ($2.1 million). All exceed average lifetime earnings of college-educated school administrators ($2.0 million); writers and editors ($2.0 million); and teachers ($1.8 million) (Carnevale, Rose, & Cheah, 2011).

One reason for the low earnings among bottom-quartile college graduates may be that the number of college-educated workers exceeds the number of college-level jobs available. According to one analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 35 percent of the 49 million college graduates in the workforce have jobs that require less than a college degree (Vedder, 2010). For example, 30 percent of flight attendants, 16 percent of bartenders, and 13 percent of waiters and waitresses are college graduates (Matgouranis, 2010). At the same time, Edward Gordon (2009), a workforce researcher and writer, predicts that as many as 12 to 24 million U.S. jobs—most of them requiring technical skills and training in 21st century technologies—may go unfilled between now and 2020 because too few workers have the skills these jobs require.

The Problem with College for All

In a recent report, a Harvard commission observed that the college-for-all push may overemphasize one set of career options while devaluing another—namely, middle-skill jobs that often lead to higherpaying work than college diplomas (Symonds, Schwartz, & Ferguson, 2011). The commission observed that it may be no coincidence that as the United States pushed more students toward college, often at the expense of vocational programs, our high school graduation rate fell from 1st to 13th place in the world. Indeed, many countries that now outperform the United States on a variety of education outcomes—including Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany—"offer more diverse, robust pathways to careers and practical-minded postsecondary options than we do in the U.S."

(Symonds, Schwartz, & Ferguson, 2011, p. 18).

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