Written by Carol Christen
Monday, 01 March 2010 22:10

The unemployment rate for teens and adults has blasted to an all time high. Yet, right now in the United States, there are three million jobs technical, well paying jobs that are vacant. Why? Because employers can’t find people with the skills needed for jobs that are in demand.

There is little connection between the world of work and education. Old school academics encourage bachelors degrees in an economy that disparately needs technicians. Young people only learn about this miss-match after they leave school when they are job hunting. The expected doors of opportunity are slamming shut because they made no plans before graduation for how to earn a living after high school.

In this economy, postponing career exploration and decision making until after you graduate from high school is not a strategy for success.

Here are a few reasons you might want to begin planning earlier than popular wisdom suggests:

  • Unemployment for 16 to 24 year olds is 52.2% (higher than any year since 1948)
  • It takes a salary of $17 an hour to be able to afford to rent your own place.
  • By September, just 20% of 2009 college grads had found a full time job.
  • Only 50% of college grads are finding work that needs their education. The other 50% are getting the same jobs they could have gotten without higher education.
  • 55% of students who borrowed money to attend college think it wasn’t worth it.

“Whether you are work bound or college bound, success after high school depends on having good grades and a detailed plan for achieving your personal and professional goals,” reports Technical Education Kenneth C. Gray, PhD, author of Getting Real: Helping Teens Find Their Futures (2008).

Professor Gray’s research shows that, “When you know your goals and how your studies will help you achieve them, you get more interested in your classes.” You can use the next three or four years to build a strong foundation for future success.

Don’t panic about grades. Always work hard and get the best grades you can given the subject and teacher. Who could ask for more? Even if you aren’t always a stellar student, trying hard can impress both teachers and parents. Remember, today’s teacher is tomorrow’s job recommendation. Besides, if you’re grades are decent, you may qualify for community college programs for teens, getting yourself technical level training while you are in high school and therefore closer to earning good money.

So, along with your gym clothes, your excuse for missing second period last Tuesday, your locker combination, meningitis vaccination, computer passwords, sports physical, field trip permission slip…and…oh yes…your homework, add career exploration activities to your list. You need to set aside time to figure out your first career path and what classes you can take in high school that will help you become more employable.

During high school learn about many different kinds of jobs that match your skills and interests. This kind of exploration and planning helps you discover jobs you’ll enjoy doing and will enable you to earn a good living as a young adult. You can look for more meaningful and enjoyable work at any time in your life. But, when someone else, like your parentals, are paying for your food an lodging you can focus on creating a start-up plan for yourself. The more time you spend exploring careers, the more likely you are to find a few you’ll like and that can finance the life you want.

True: making a career plan to help you explore your choices and make good decisions about what you are going to do after high school means more activities to juggle, more time commitments to manage. Also true: the payoff is sweet.