In 2011, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. The report’s authors called for much more attention to building career pathways in high-growth, high-demand occupational fields that span high school and college and can provide young people with skills and credentials valued in the labor market.
Our country faces multiple challenges in equipping our young people for successful futures.
The U.S. lags in college completion:
- We rank 11th in degree attainment among young adults, ages 25-34. (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2016)
- Only 60% earn a bachelor’s degree in a six-year graduation window, while just 28% complete an Associate’s degree or certificate in a three-year graduation window. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016)
- Disparities in educational attainment disproportionately affect low-income youth and students of color. Degree attainment rates among African American and Hispanic U.S. residents are 29% and 21%, respectively, as compared to 45% for whites. (Lumina, 2016)
- Yet 65% of jobs will require postsecondary credentials by 2020. (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2013)
- Working enables young adults to develop critical skills, but youth unemployment has increased dramatically. Only about a quarter of teens were employed in 2012, compared to over 45% in 2000. (Andrew Sum, 2013)
A clear skills gap threatens the well-being of our youth, communities, and country:
- More than half of young Americans reach their mid-twenties without the skills and credentials needed for success in today’s demanding economy. (Pathways to Prosperity report, 2011)
A promising direction:
- Job growth exists in fields such as science, engineering, technology, mathematics, and other related industries. (Brookings, 2013)
- There are 26 million STEM jobs in the U.S, comprising 20% of all jobs. (Brookings, 2013)
- Half of all STEM jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree. (Brookings, 2013)