What can you do to address the unemployment and underemployment of today’s young people?
Study after study show that young people are not getting the jobs they want, even though many who go to college to get area-specific education. Listen to the pundits and you hear lots of education related proposals: Improve education in the public schools by paying teachers more and/or using standardized testing; universalize pre-K education so everyone gets a faster start on education; reduce the burden on students forced to pay skyrocketing college tuitions. Unfortunately, none of these are going to make a difference to today’s high-school students – the next cohort at risk of not getting the jobs they want within the next decade or so.
Here’s a different solution: improve career-related education for high school and college age students. And engage the organizations – public, private and non-profit organizations that can use bright new workers to pay for it by creating opportunities and mentoring students.
Did you know that smart, talented young craftsmen in plumbing and related trades can earn $50,000- $100,000 within two years – without requiring a 4-year college degree? These company leaders tell me that they can’t find enough young people to apply for positions within their firms. Why? Because society today is biased toward encouraging college education rather than trade and skill (e.g., sales) training, even though college may not lead to anything more than working in a fast-food store! Official training programs for these kinds of careers are hard to find; some of the leaders tell me that they’d love the opportunity to help organize such career training.
For people wanting more white collar and professional positions – they too need a form of career education that you can get only on the job. Through mentoring internships – the kind advocated by Mentor Our Kids – students can learn what kinds of work they actually will do in chosen professions (e.g., accounting, office management, law, health care delivery) and see if they really like it. Moreover, they learn what’s expected of them in such jobs – effective communications, teamwork, collaboration, marketing, sales and customer service activities.
Very few people are encouraging companies to increase the quality of their existing internship opportunities for students, and increasing the quantity of these mentoring internships substantially to meet the need. It’s the reason that Mentor Our Kids was founded. It’s the most-cost-effective solution to address the youth underemployment problem and simultaneously engages the most adults in the process. They’re committed to helping companies realize the ROI of providing mentoring internships. (see www.MentorOurKids.org for more information).
Meet the standard; this year, have your company offer more internships than last year; and increase the number again next year. Improve the quality of mentoring so the students get more career-related insights and skills; and commit to doing even more next year.
It’s career-education provided through the workplace that’s going to solve this problem. When the Mentors in a Company help the students learn more about careers and jobs and use that information to be better educated and make better selections, we all win!