MADISON, Wis. (5/17/10)--After 12 years, most high school graduates could be excused for hoping they’ve seen the last of compulsory education. But, with changes in the global demand for skilled labor, young adults are feeling forced to look beyond secondary education. During the 12-month recessionary period starting July 2008, when overall employment declined
by 5.3%, the number of jobs for workers with advanced degrees actually grew
by 1.5% (WANTED Technologies
March). But, of course, post-secondary education is not compulsory, or in some cases even desirable. The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Center for Personal Finance editors offer these planning steps to help your teenager find the best path to a career:
* Self assess. Taking a good, hard look at personal interests and strengths is essential to making the right educational and career choices. Barbara Cooke, M.A., author of “Parent’s Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover,” encourages parents to help their teenagers examine their skills, values, and personality preferences by asking: Where are my skills used in the economy? What additional education or work experience would I need to get the job I really want? The federal government’s online Occupational Outlook Handbook can be an excellent resource for this step. * Consider all options. Perhaps a four-year college education followed by a graduate degree is not the way to go for your child. There are plenty of other roads to fulfilling and financially rewarding careers, including military service, technical schools, and apprenticeships. * "Try out" a profession. One way is through an entry-level internship, such as the one Rachel described for CUNA’s online youth magazine Googolplex. Her internship gave her an overview of the entire graphic design field. "I learned much more about what goes on in the design world," she said, "from how clients are handled and the making of proposals to the actual design work and programs used. It's good to know what you want to do, but I think it is even more important to know and understand all of your options." * Delay a decision. For some, the best decision a high school graduate can make is to put off a commitment for a while. A “gap year” after high school can be a time of maturation, reflection and growth that eases the transition to college and the world of work. Many students use a gap year to clarify interests and establish focus before going on to school.
"You're building a resume before you hit college," Holly Bull, president of The Center for Interim Programs, LLC, a New Jersey-based consulting firm, told CUNA’s Home & Family Finance
magazine. "I've had students who have taught in schools, acquired language fluency, got experience in business...this is a very practical accrual of skills and recommendations and references that can actually help them get jobs down the line." Getting insight and experience can be just as useful as academic knowledge. Said Cooke, “Even though the word on the street is that a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree, most young people need to figure out an initial career path and get some entry-level work experience before signing on for more student loan debt.”