The number of high school graduates continues to decline, in fact only two-thirds of high school students’ graduate. This figure is dramatic since this country is considered to be one of the leaders in the world. The reason for this number varies for high school students who drop out and their future looks bleak (The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, High Graduation Rates, 2016).
Considering that a high school diploma is the starting point for most employment opportunities, the only answer for high dropouts is to earn a General Educational
Development (GED) diploma. This provides those who dropout a high school diploma equivalent. It also provides the opportunity to learn job skills by attending vocational technical and trade schools.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reports that over 80% of manufacturers are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of technically proficient employees. They state this gap can be easily eliminated by hiring employees who have earned a technical degree or certificate from vocational technical schools (NAM Keeping America Competitive Report, 2017)
Critical Technical Career Field Shortages
Some of the most basic and in demand jobs today require technical education expertise. For example:
Custodians are confronted with toilets, sinks, and other devices which operate electronically. They need good math skills for properly mix cleaning materials, along with good reading skills for following even the basic procedures. These are not the typical skills of high school dropouts.
Automotive Technicians need a strong technical background today. The era of the backyard mechanic has gone the way of dinosaurs. Cars today are highly complicated machines employing more computer technology than was used to take men to the moon in an Apollo space capsule. Their incomes range from $30,000 to $100,000 a year, depending on location.
Healthcare Occupations have the largest gap when it comes to skilled employees. In fact, 12 of the top 20 hardest to fill jobs are in the healthcare industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With the greatest shortage being nurses. Other critical areas are in X-ray technicians, lab technicians, and ultra sound technicians.
A two-year degree from a vocational, technical, or trade school is typically all that is needed to become a nurse. Nurses usually receive a sign on bonuses and can begin making up to $70,000 a year in some areas of the country.
Computer Science and Information Technology is also in the top 20 hard to fill jobs. A two-year technical degree or certificate is all that is needed to enter this career field. The opportunities are unlimited in all sectors of industry for computer and IT skills.
Career and Technical Education and Basic Job Skills
A four-year college education is not necessary for everyone to have a successful working career. Typically, most jobs only require a two-year technical degree or certificate and a four-year degree is a misuse of money and resources.
Here are some basic job skills which every person needs and are not typically within the realm of high school dropouts. Most are earned through continuing education.
- Ninth Grade or Higher Math Skills (completion of at least Algebra I)
- Ninth Grade or Higher Reading Skills (newspapers are written at fifth grade level)
- Problem Solving Ability
- Ability to Use Computers
Earning a high school degree and at least a two-year technical degree or certificate is the new basis for marketable employment skills today. This is why it is critical for people to continue their education, regardless of their situation.