As a staffing company owner over the past seven years, I have had a unique vantage point to learn about the problems people face in the ‘New” workforce. I use the word ‘New’ because many businesses have learned to do the same amount of work with far less employees because of the weak economy. This trend will continue for many years to come and the youth of today will have to prepare accordingly. That means more competition for fewer jobs and the salaries will be lower than in years past. Some of the problems today are:
- People have no idea how to look for a job because nobody taught them.
- Many unemployed expect just to be handed a job.
- 20-30% of applicants in my office have no high school diploma or GED.
- Failure to build a professional network before being unemployed.
- Not being able to follow simple directions on applications and job postings.
- Bringing in your negative baggage into interviews.
I was lucky enough that my parents had the money to over-educate me but most folks are not as lucky. Based on my years in the recruiting business I have come to realize that not everyone should go to college, and we should do a better job preparing folks to do jobs that may not be very glamorous. The cost for a four year degree can approach $100,000 and after the economy tanked, few people will be able to pay for it without incurring a heavy debt load. Going to college is going to be a luxury less people can afford, so we better do a better job preparing our youth in grade school and high school now.
I am not saying people should not go to college. But…there are some students that really don’t want to go or their grades don’t qualify, so why force them to go and incur a very large expense?
Here are some ideas I would like to see in our public education system:
- Career planning starting in the 8th grade. Expose students to a variety of careers by having mock job fairs, etc.
- Basic financial management. How to open a bank account, checking accounts, apply for a loan, credit management and budgeting. Wonder why we are in the economic pickle we are in today? No one really understood what they were doing.
- Basic interview skills. How to apply for a job, proper attire and practice mock interviews. Most people are very poor at these skills. I see it daily in my office.
- Require more public speaking. Better speakers interview better and get more job offers than others with similar backgrounds.
- Expose students to jobs such as: commercial truck driver, teaching, military, skilled trades. Those are important jobs that need good employees…My dad used to say…”the world needs ditch diggers” and that is very accurate.
- Stock market or economic games that teach about our financial system and why you should understand it.
What makes me laugh is that after six years of higher education, I never had any of these programs in school. THAT is a travesty! Most of the skills we use as adults must be taught by someone who has experienced it themselves. A parent or relative in most cases, but what about the people who don’t have role models to teach these life skills? They rely on the wrong people and end up moving aimlessly from low paying job, to an even lower paying job.
Going forward, we must include more life skill instruction or face the consequences of having an entire generation that needs Government assistance to make ends meet. Based on our giant Government deficit, we cannot afford this to happen now or in the future. Plan now or face consequences later.