If they aren’t going to college or job training, what are Georgia’s high school grads doing?

School counselors in Georgia are learning more about career options for students, including construction.
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

I attended a forum last week that debated vocational education, now known as career and technology education or CTE. Like middle school, career tech is one of those K-12 weak spots that provokes a lot of discussion but seemingly resists transformation.

With middle school, I contend the model itself is flawed. But with vo-tech, I believe it’s more a perception issue. Despite dressing up the name of the program, many parents still believe career tech is not what the smart kids do, and they’re reluctant to see their children in the program.

However, there is rising skepticism of the “college for all” mantra. Georgia is among the states investing in career-technical options for kids and encouraging high school graduates to enroll in post-secondary training to obtain technical certificates. (Georgia adds an A for agriculture so we go with CTAE)

A recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report showed 30 million jobs in the U.S. that pay well– median salary of $55,000 — without a bachelor’s degree. But the jobs do require some training after high school.

According to Good Jobs That Pay Without a BA:

Although the economy has shifted, workers without a B.A. still comprise 64 percent of all workers. Many believe good jobs for workers without a B.A. no longer exist in this new environment. “Even though there have been big losses, manufacturing still provides the largest number of good jobs,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report.

While the good jobs of the manufacturing era only required a high school diploma or less, new good jobs tend to require at least some postsecondary education and training. The growth of good jobs has been greatest for workers with an Associate’s degree. Americans with only high school diplomas still have the largest share of good jobs (11.6 million), but that share continues to decline. Workers with some college have 9.3 million good jobs, those with Associate’s degrees have 7.6 million good jobs, and high school dropouts only have 1.7 million.

Even though jobs exist for non college-bound students, the average number of career-technical credits high school students earn in this country has dropped. In 2013-14, about 326,000 Georgia high school students participated in career-technical classes, only an increase of 1,300 over six years earlier.

As a vice chairman for the Holder Construction Company, Michael Kenig is concerned about attracting and keeping workers. He was among the panelists discussing career tech last week at a Georgia Partnership For Excellence in Education forum on the critical talent shortage in Georgia.

As someone long involved in skills development, Kenig made interesting points during the panel and in a follow-up conversation we had. While Georgia CTAE students graduate high school at impressive rates, too few of them pursue training programs after high school that would give them needed industry credentials and skills, said Kenig.

He pointed to statistics from Georgia’s 2010 high school graduation class. As of 2015, 22 percent of the class had a four-year degree or beyond, he said. That left 78 percent without a four-year degree. Seven percent of them had an associate degree or a credential, while 18 percent were still enrolled in school.

And the others? “When you break down that 78 percent, 53 percent didn’t have anything beyond high school — no postsecondary credential, no degree, no associate degree,” Kenig said.

“We are doing plenty for that 22 percent,” said Kenig. “What are we doing for the 78 percent, and more importantly, what are we doing for that 53 percent that got nothing? The CTAE system is the best option we have, but most students do not continue in the CTAE pathways after high school.”

As evidence, Kenig noted the entry age in the construction field is mid-to-late 20s. “Kids are losing 10 years of their lives doing who knows what before they circle around and think this is something I would love to do,” he said.

Among the questions we need to answer:

•How do we get those kids to consider construction or other fields with decent earning potential at age 18 rather than age 28?

•Why aren’t high school students in career pathways continuing their training after graduation so they can earn industry credentials?

•Why are they taking detours that lead to critical gaps in their earning power?

•Is there a disconnect between the K-12 system and Georgia’s technical colleges? Do silos still exist?

Kenig understands some parents don’t want their kids in construction. And he has a response to those parents: “I don’t want your kids. There are kids who do like working with their hands and do like working outside. I want to make sure these kids see the opportunity before they are 26-years-old.”

He also realizes some 18-year-olds don’t want to join the workforce. But some high school grads have to work and want to work, including a high school student who interned with Holder and now has a job waiting for him when he graduates, said Kenig.

“I want the kids to do what is best for them. I am not trying to sell them on construction, but we need to give them opportunities and they can decide what they want to do.”

 

 

 

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28 comments
Teachertim
Teachertim

Everyone does not need to go to college, nor does our society need everyone to go.  This is a breakdown of our schools - there is no longer a technical track - the 'lowest' level/diploma is labeled 'college prep.' This is where we fail the non college kids - we need to do a better job meeting their needs, desires, and future goals - stop leaving them on the dust of the 'college prep' students.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

What are Georgia High School Grads doing?????  Well, judging by looking at TV News Shows and Internet News, some of them are trying to re-write history by rioting, destroying Revered Confederate Statues and otherwise causing mayhem on the streets of the Southern States.  AND, it's not only HS kids, it's college age adults?? too.....how in the world ANY of those taking part in these acts of anarchism expect ANY company to hire them is beyond my level of comprehension.

bicami
bicami

 my roomate's sister-in-law makes 74 an hour on the laptop.. she has been laid off for twelve months. last month her pay was 13303 only working on the internet for two hours every day.. go to this site★═════════════★☆★www.decksky.com


Ryan Blythe
Ryan Blythe

Maureen- we would be happy to show you why an otherwise college bound population is choosing welding as a true alternative.

www.georgiatradeschool.com

pigami
pigami

my roomate's ex wife makes 81 an hour at home.. she's been fired from a job for 2 months, last month her pay check was 17489 just working from home for five hours a day.

 check out

http://tinyurl.com/yb8g8ckk

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Back in my day, they called it "Industrial Arts".  I was fortunate enough to attend school during a time in which a student could take college prep AND vocational classes.  I took some type of shop class from 8th grade through graduation.

I learned the "Three W's" (welding, wiring,and woodshop) along with drafting.  Developed a love of woodworking that continues to this day.


It's a shame that today's students do not have those same opportunities.

weetamoe
weetamoe

Even if they go on to college, they are in danger of coming out like critical thinker Harvard grad Alice Ristroph, whose published article in The Atlantic explains how today's eclipse actually by-passes majority Black neighborhoods in transit across the U.S. And this social justice warrior has the additional distinction of having her article published in the Atlantic's science section.  Take that, all you science deniers out there.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@weetamoe Ristroph uses the eclipse purely as a literary device, a cosmic framework in which to talk about America. It's a well written piece. She follows the path of the eclipse to discuss racial patterns and U.S. history. 

As she explains in the opening: 

The Great American Eclipse may or may not tell us anything about our future, but its peculiar path could remind us of something about our past—what it was we meant to be doing, and what we actually did along the way. And if it seems we need no reminding, consider this: We tend to backlight our history, and so run the risk of trying to recover a glory that never existed. When the light in August changes, watch carefully.


https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/american-totality-eclipse-race/537318/

Q1225
Q1225

@weetamoe Just because you want something to be true to confirm your biases doesn't mean it actually is. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@MaureenDowney @weetamoe


The last lines of Alice Ristroph's article:


". . . Or perhaps we are not indifferent, but just no more capable than butterflies and bees of seeing the long path and of deciding to change it. The Great American Eclipse illuminates, or darkens, a land still segregated, a land still in search of equality, a land of people still trying to dominate each other. When the lovely glow of a backlight fades, history is relentless, just one damn fact after another, one damning fact after another. America is a nation with debts that no honest man can pay. It is too much to ask that these debts simply be forgiven. But perhaps the strange path of the eclipse suggests a need for reorganization. We have figured out, more or less, how to count every person. We have not yet found a political system in which every person counts equally."

===========================


There is poetry in this article, pain, and passion.  Those who cannot see somewhat with the eyes of a poet, never know the beautiful possibility that the Creator of this universe may have had meaningful design planned for the trajectory of this United States total eclipse of the sun well before any one of us was even born.


My ancestry DNA showed that I am 41% German and Swedish, in combination.  It, also, showed that I am 2% African and 3% Syrian.  The people of the world, in other words, are contained within my blood and my DNA, and I imagine that that fact is true for practically every person existing in the United States of America. Cannot these phenomena in this limitless universe in which we live cause us to understand how silly our attention to race really is?  I have no doubt that the spirit of God is not focused on race, but the hearts and minds of humankind.

Astropig
Astropig

@weetamoe


Read the comments in The Atlantic on that article.They're hilarious.


"Shrieking hive of retardation" caused me to wet 'em.

methuselahschild
methuselahschild

i went to voctech shool in alabama during the late 70's. two years..  worked as a machinist for 4 years(was a darn good one too).. went back to school and got a 4 year degree in computer information systems.. been doing that for over 30 years.. we had the same issues then as now... university was considered the gold standard.. however the people i went to voctech school all earned a good wage after school.. its about the person.. what do they want .. you can tell them all you want but if they are not listening then they wont do it... its a maturity thing.. thats why at 28 they finally figure out they need to do something with their lives.. in decades past , military service was required.. this did two things.. first it taught a skill .. second it taught self reliance as they were removed from the parents house and had to grow up..

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@methuselahschild


I like most of your thoughts.  Could I alter one, however?  Why not service to country either in military service or service to humanity in the Peace Corps in order to grow up, learn skills, and help humanity?

methuselahschild
methuselahschild

@MaryElizabethSings @methuselahschild .. it really doesnt matter. in roman times the military was used to build roads and cities when they were not fighting.. they served a dual pupose. army corp of engineers would be a good place to start.. the problem with the peace corp, the skills are mostly low tech... which is fine for that purpose.. but they don't do computer repair and such.. most folks don't understand the military does help humanity... thats why you see helicopters during rescue missions after storms... they have the biggest logistics group in the world.. learn that for the private sector.. ... serve the country.. its a good start... but the biggest thing is leaving mama and daddys house..


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@methuselahschild @MaryElizabethSings

All good points.   However, I want to see a change in the thinking of humankind in these 21st and 22nd centuries from war and fighting to solving problems by reason and by communion with others throughout the planet in a spirit of care and by addressing common needs in order to solve worldwide problems. 


Sometimes, as I see it presently, the leaders in the military have mainly a vision of war defense instead of fostering a vision of peace through care and dialogue, at least at this point in humankind's ongoing evolution.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

(1)  Many high school students graduate from high school reading no higher than 5th grade level - not high enough to read technical materials in CTAE with full understanding. (Ditto math skills from high school.)


(2)  Imo, CTAE students do not need to take some college level courses in technical schools. This will keep many technical students away who should be in technical schools.


(3)   Students without minimal reading and math skills will not be able to read technical manuals with full understanding. CTAE schools need to offer remedial reading and remedial math courses instead of college level courses, in addition to the technical areas of expertise.


(4)  Essentially, imo, poverty remains the major factor in educators' not being able to steer students into the most advantageous curriculum through secondary and CTAE training,  Legislators must address that.


RoadScholar
RoadScholar

More career counseling in High School and trade training under a school/work program is needed. People are not planning their futures. Education is the key. But the kids need to develop a better work ethic to excel. Put down the cell phone and games. Focus on your future, not immediate gratification!


Take a chance. Try it! If you fail at least you tried and maybe...just maybe...your eyes and mind will be introduced to something you like , want to do, and that you can make a decent living at! It's not a shame you fail. It is a shame that either you do not try or that you do not try again!

krharrison
krharrison

I graduated from high school in 1997 from a very small town in north Georgia and even back then, college was seen as the "gold standard" of post-secondary education.  Vocational education was not encouraged and more focus was placed on attending college, much like today.  I can tell you, several of my classmates went on to be lawyers and doctors, but even more quit or even flunked out of college or just did nothing at all.  We need to get over this stigma of "college is better" because in some cases, it's not. 

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

I wanted to share these Facebook comments about this blog entry as they raise interesting issues:


Jim: From my perspective, after accepting a job as an adjunct instructor at the local technical school, now called a technical college, I witnessed a large fall off of enrollment when college prep courses were required along with the manual skills courses. Again, after the financial requirements from HOPE were reduced. I thought that the idea of the tech school was to train those who would be unable to be employed due to educational issues. I remembered one of my high school teachers trying to encourage us by saying if we didn't get a good education, we would eventually become ditch diggers. Well, last I heard, the ditch digger was making a good wage today. I am not condemning the education requirements for the tech schools, but some people will be unable to participate because of the college prep courses required, and all the diploma and certificate courses require basic college courses. Last of all, I was forced to leave the system when the requirements to instruct were elevated to at least a bachelor's degree. I only had an associates degree. I truly enjoyed the 11.5 years teaching computer repair skills.


Shanon: I hear you, and to some degree I agree. But anyone in a tech school is going to have to read and understand a Material Data Safety Sheet. And do some math. Collegiate-level reading or math? Probably not. Surely tech programs don't require much more than the basics...?

In any case, the statics in this article are deeply upsetting - "Kids are waiting a decade of their lives circling around to what they want to do."

Many high schools - if not most - give kids every opportunity to plan for every possible contingency. Where are parents, what are parents doing to help their kids?


Jim: Agree, but those were requirements before the college prep courses. Maybe not the Material Data Sheets, but some basic math. A carpenter has to be able to read blue prints and as an apprentice be able to follow verbal instructions. The point I am trying to convey is the ability for some to learn a skill was eliminated with the college prep courses requirements

redweather
redweather

@MaureenDowney I believe degree requirements for instructors were raised because the USG sees the technical college system as a more or less equal alternative to the state's two-year liberal arts schools.

Shanon Woolf
Shanon Woolf

I hear you, and to some degree I agree. But anyone in a tech school is going to have to read and understand a Material Data Safety Sheet. And do some math. Collegiate -level reading or math? Probably not. Surely tech programs don't require much more than the basics...? In any case, the statics in this article are deeply upsetting - "Kids are waiting a decade of their lives circling around to what they want to do." Many high schools - if not most - give kids every opportunity to plan for every possible contingency. Where are parents, what are parents doing to help their kids?

redweather
redweather

At the risk of being faulted for throwing lots of people under the bus, employers are often frustrated by how many job applicants possessing the requisite vocational training can't pass a drug screening test. Not sure what we can do to address that. 

Astropig
Astropig

@redweather


can't pass a drug screening test. .. Not sure what we can do to address that. "


Cut off public benefits for able bodied people that won't work or can't work because they get high and stay high all day?


Now. I'd say that we do need to offer a one-time-only rehab program for anyone that wants to enter the workforce and take a productive job and actually contribute to society.No questions asked,no law enforcement triggered-a real second chance,and yes,100% publicly funded.(Taxpaying workers increased productivity will more than cover the cost of their treatment over time).


But conversely,it could be argued that if you have housing,food medical care,phone service and child care paid by the state,there's plenty of "budget displacement" to afford mind altering substances.It could be said that our public assistance system sponsors drug abuse and unhealthy life choices.I'd say cut off the money flow and introduce some stringent accountability into the system and these people that cannot stay straight enough to hold a job could start to lead productive,prosperous lives.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@redweather Even if they can pass a drug test, they have to develop a good work ethic. Put down the cell phone. You will not be paid for abusing the work ethic!

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

A great lesson in this piece - learn a trade and don't become a thieving scammer like those below......

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@OldEngineer  They are thieving, but also relentless, finding their way around all sorts of filters. Took down that latest crop of comments to which you referred but they will be back. This is a never-ending cat and mouse game.