Tag Archives: JAG

Kids Need Jobs, Too!

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When you think about our current economy you probably evaluate that we’re in a recovery period, a time in which the job market is slowly – very slowly – on the mend. You probably imagine employment rates on the rise, and would claim we’re faring considerably better than we were during the recent recession. And you’d be right. But for one group in our nation, this holds hauntingly, troublingly, untrue, and we need do our darnedest to figure out a solution because this is one important group of people:  they are our future.

A recent report by The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University and JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) examines in detail the employment outcomes of high school graduates from the class of 2012 who did not enroll in college, and the results were not positive. Employment rates for our nation’s teens over the last several years (all demographic, socio-economic, and schooling groups) have seen steep drops. These drops have been so steep that employment rates for teens have reached new historical lows for the post WWII period. High school students and young high school drop outs have seen the greatest differences in securing paid employment (of any type) in recent years and young high school graduates , especially those not enrolling in college in the fall after graduation, have seen both declining employment rates and a strongly reduced ability to secure full time work.

JAG Policy Brief #1

What’s concerning is the nature of these drops. Until recently the ability of America’s teens to obtain work has been fairly cyclical, with teen employment rates rising to above average during periods of job growth and falling during periods of recession. During the economic recovery of 2003-2007 however, teen employment rates did not see any significant rise, dropping from a rate of 70% in 2000 to 58% in 2003 and recovering only three points to 61% in 2007. Employment rates failed to increase again during the current job recovery from the recession of 2007-2009, dropping from 61% in 2007 to 46% in 2009 and holding there in both 2011 and 2012. These are the lowest employment rates for new non-college enrolled high school graduates in the U.S since the data series began being recorded in 1959.

The employment rates of high school graduates varied considerably by gender and race ethnic group and across the board male high school graduates fared worse than female graduates, their employment rates dropping to an all-time low of 44% in Oct. 2012. Family income also influenced employment rates, with high school graduates coming from higher income families (no surprise here) seeing a stronger likelihood for employment. Another important note though, is that the ability of employed High School graduates not attending college to obtain full time jobs has also declined dramatically since 2000. This number dropped to 43% in October 2012, the lowest full time job share ever recorded in in this data series.

The report combined the findings on the employment rates of non-college enrolled high school graduates with the share of the employed working full time to calculate their employment to population ratios, which are consistent with the declining employment statistics and darker still. In the month of October 2012 only 19 of every 100 high school graduates who did not attend college in the fall were employed full time, another historical low. As this study implores us, we need to think about the message and implications of these unemployment rates. Not only will this lack of employment adversely affect the future of these graduates in terms of lower employment rates, wages, and reduced training from employers, but it also sends the wrong message to youths still in school. How can we expect young people to understand the value of a high school degree, and support our claim that it’s important to stay in school, when their direct experience is observing the many idle graduates (their peers) with no employment and nothing to do? As of now, no new policy initiatives exist to address this large-scale labor market issue.

So it’s up to us. What are we going to do about it?


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Filed under Andrew Sum, Center for Labor Market Studies, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, High School Graduates' Employment Rates, JAG, Student Job Search

Youth Unemployment: A Growing Problem

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You probably know a good kid like this. Graduating from high school in June. From an OK high school. Not the best student. Probably not able to get in to college – even if they could afford it and were motivated to try. They had a part-time job a couple of years ago, but got laid off. Haven’t really looked for a job since then. No real skills that employers can use. No idea how to look for a job. Starting to think about the future. No idea where to start.

Guess what? Their prospects are not good. And they need help.

You know we have an unemployment problem. Did you know we have a youth unemployment problem?

Employers of every size in every sector lament the lack of skills available to them in the talent pool.  Whether you’re reading reports from McKinsey, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, or countless other research organizations, the message is all too similar:  our post-secondary education system isn’t delivering enough degreed individuals to meet the demands of employers world-wide. And it’s only going to get worse. Something I’ve written about here, here and here.

But it isn’t just the post-secondary education system. The secondary system is doing even worse. The youth labor market has collapsed since 2000.  The rate of overall youth employment in the teen population has fallen from 45% in 2000 to 26% in 2012 – a 42% drop, to the lowest point in post-World War II history. In 1989 the youth employment rate was 48.5%.

Here are some sobering statistics from research completed in 20120 by The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University for Jobs for America’s Graduates:

  • In 2000, the share of employed, non-college-bound youth from the high school class of 2000 was just under 70%

  • In 2011, the share of employed, non-college-bound youth from the class of 2011 was 45%, the lowest since the survey started in 1965

  • In October 2011, the employment/population rates for these non-college-bound high school graduates ranged from a low of 32% among African Americans to a high of 48% among Caucasian youth.

  • Fewer than half of these employed, non-college-bound graduates were able to obtain a full-time job – yielding a full-time employment/population ratio of 21%

  • Among the non-college-bound population of high school graduates, only 25% of Caucasian, 24% of Hispanic, and 7% of African American youth were working full time.

And these are high school graduates.  In the U.S., the percentage of high school graduates by state ranges from 62% (Nevada) to 88% (Iowa), with an overall average of 78%. What about the 22% of young people who drop out of high school?  What are their prospects?

From an historical perspective, this chart shows the economic impact of dropping out of high school. But that lifetime earning amount of $1,198,447 will surely decline as fewer young people with – or without – high school degrees gain full-time employment.

Georgetown Projections of Jobs Education Requirements Figure V

And this is a problem. If unemployment in the teen population continues to rise, then a key argument to persist in high school to graduation begins to fade, further impacting college graduation rates. If unemployment in the teen population continues to rise, then key employment skills building experience will decline making employment less likely as they age in to their 20’s. If unemployment in the teen population continues to rise, then a whole host of societal challenges will grow – and none of them positive for people or the economy.

Involvement in organizations like JAG* (Jobs for America’s Graduates) can help. I’ve written about JAG here and here. It’s the longest-lived, most successful program in the U.S. that keeps the most at-risk kids in school through graduation and then stays with them through their first year of employment, college or military service. And it is making a difference in the graduation and employment rates of kids in 33 states.  Here are some current outcomes;

  • The employment/population ratio in spring 2012 was 72% for all young people in JAG versus only 42% for their national comparison group.

  • Nearly 60% of those JAG graduates not enrolled in college were employed full time in May 2012, compared to only 30% of their comparison group counterparts. Over three times the rate of teenagers in general who were working.

    • Nearly 48% of non-college enrolled African American JAG graduates were working full time versus only 17% of their comparison group peers.

    • 61% of Hispanic JAG non-college enrolled graduates were employed full time versus only 42% of their comparison group.

    • 68% of Caucasian JAG non-college enrolled graduates were employed full time versus only 31% of their comparison group.

It’s hard to argue with success. It’s even harder to argue with 32 years of consistent success. This video really captures the effectiveness of this approach:

Employers that hire skills that require high school graduation need to be concerned about the entire talent pipeline, not just the college degreed pipeline.

And by concerned, I mean involved in keeping young people in school until they graduate so that they are employable.

And by involved, I mean supporting programs like JAG that are focused on providing real, sustainable results.

And by support I mean financial support, political influence support and the promise to provide job interviews to every JAG student where they have a presence. (Archer Daniels Midland has done just that!)

You know we have an unemployment problem. Did you know we have a youth unemployment problem?

*I serve on JAG’s national board of directors.

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Filed under Archer Daniels Midland, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Jobs for America's Graduates, Skills Shortage

From Tragedy to Triumph

As an employer, how are you feeling about the epidemic that is our high school dropout rate?  As an employer, how are you evaluating the quality of students who do manage to graduate from high schools in the communities where you have operations?  As an employer, would you like to have educated, motivated, enthusiastic high school graduates lining up outside your employment office ready to start their careers with your organization and committed to making a difference for you, your customers and your community?

If you’re like Verizon, AT&T, Archer Daniels Midland, McDonalds, Apollo Group and many more employers of all sizes, you’re already supporting the work of JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) in 32 states and 1,000 communities to provide support to the most at-risk high school students in the toughest high school situations imaginable.

JAG programs this year supported more than 43,000 such students and achieved a 94% graduation rate.  Let me write that again:  JAG programs this year supported more than 43,000 such students and achieved a 94% graduation rate.  In the high schools with the most disenfranchised students:  inner city schools, Indian reservation schools, forgotten rural schools, crime-ridden schools, underfunded schools, JAG is working a kind of magic.

At its Annual Leadership Awards Event last week in Washington, D.C., 300+ JAG student leaders and almost as many of their teachers came together to attend the JAG 2012 National Student Leadership Academy and to celebrate their success in overcoming all the odds stacked up against them. (Here‘s my review of last year’s event.)

Two student leaders took to the podium during the luncheon to talk about their journey “from tragedy to triumph,” as Darnell Willliams described his life experience.  Darnell, currently a college student interning in the South Caroline Department of Employment & Workforce, described how JAG opened a door for him.  “The door had a sign that said One Way:  Up!”

Sage Zephier, a senior from Wagner, SD (which sits in the Yankton Indian Reservation) has a 3.0 grade point average; scored a 26 on the ACT; is a three sport athlete in football, wrestling (state) and track (state) and will attend college in the fall to the study athletic training and psychology.  His journey from tragedy to triumph would truly make you stand up and cheer.

Both Sage and Darnell have battled the worst that a young person could face – and it would be completely expected for them to have fallen between the cracks of social and family services, education systems, tribal systems and community safety nets.  Except someone forget to tell that to Sage and Darnell.  And that someone was the JAG Specialist in their high school.  That’s the person who convinced these two young men – and thousands of other girls and boys – that they mattered.  That they had a future that included education, jobs, financial security, the ability to contribute to their community and the ability to make a difference for others.

In 2012 there are more than 43,000 young people with stories similar to Sage and Darnell who are beating the odds and succeeding in high school and planning to go to college, enter the military or secure a job.  These are kids we would not have expected to make it out of 10th grade, much less graduate from high school.

Since the first high school adopted the JAG program and curriculum 32 years ago, nearly 1,000,000 young people who most likely would have never been able to contribute positively to the economy have graduated from high school, gone to college, served our country in the military and started successful careers – all of which changed the employment and economic trajectory of their families.

So.  As an employer, would you like to have educated, motivated, enthusiastic high school graduates lining up outside your employment office ready to start their careers with your organization and committed to making a difference for you, your customers and your community?

If your answer is yes, then you know what to do.  Get involved with the JAG organization in your state.  Support it financially and sit on its board of trustees.  If JAG isn’t yet in your state, start a conversation with your Governor and get it going!  The contributions you make today to support JAG in your community will come back to your organization in the form of successful students who are ready to commit to your success – and their own success.  Young people like Sage and Darnell.  Trust me:  you’d hire them in a heartbeat!

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Filed under Apollo Group, Archer Daniels Midland, AT&T, China Gorman, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Jobs for America's Graduates, McDonald's, Talent pipeline, Verizon

Voices of JAG

Now more than ever we need Jobs for America’s Graduates.

JAG is currently operating in 32 states with more than 800 local program affiliates.  If JAG is in your state you need to get involved.  If JAG is not in your state you need lead the way for its introduction.

That is all.

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Jobs for America's Graduates

AT&T, JAG and the Talent Deficit

In my post yesterday, I suggested that employers will need to start making strategic partnerships with education institutions and economic development organizations, among others, to start dealing with the upcoming acute shortage of workers who have graduated from high school and have some college under their belt.

A great example of this came to my attention yesterday.  On Monday AT&T announced an investment of $250,000,000 over the next five years to improve high school graduation rates.  Here’s how their announcement began:  “ As access to skilled workers becomes increasingly vital to the U.S. economy, AT&T is launching a quarter-billion-dollar campaign to help more students graduate from high school ready for careers and college, and to ensure the country is better prepared to meet global competition.”

Investing in JAG – Jobs for America’s Graduates – is an example of strategic corporate investment in the future of the talent pipeline.  JAG, the most effective program of its kind – is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.  In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.  The kids in the AT&T Aspire video are great examples of JAG at work in the trenches.

Who wouldn’t hire those kids?

I ended my Data Point Tuesday post yesterday with this imperative:  “The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.”

Looks like AT&T is out in front.  Again!

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Filed under Aspire, AT&T, China Gorman, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Job Creation, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

“Thank you for saving my life” … what every non-profit board member wants to hear

Most business leaders give back.  They make financial donations, they volunteer, they serve on boards.  I’m no different.

I’ve been on a number of non-profit boards through the years.  All the organizations I supported had missions focused on the development of people, on making our talent pipeline more robust.  I was on the board of an organization that promoted the hiring of people with disabilities.  I was on the board of an organization that provided leadership development programs for young people.  I was on the board of the SHRM Foundation.

Currently, I serve as Chair of the Board of CAEL, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.  CAEL works at all levels within the higher education, public, and private sectors to make it easier for people to get the education and training they need.  It does critical policy and research work to ensure that working adults get access to lifelong learning.  An uphill road for sure.

And I’m on the executive committee of the board of JAG, Jobs for America’s Graduates.  JAG is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.  In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping more than three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.

JAG has provided infrastructure and support that has enabled more than 800,000 at-risk high school kids to graduate and move on to a job, college or the military.  JAG is changing lives pure and simple.

Here are just some of the results from the Class of 2010 – kids who graduated from high school last June:

  • The JAG graduation rate was 93%
  • Overall job placement rate was 54%
  • Full-time jobs rate of those working was 67%
  • Full-time placement rate was 88% (percentage of graduates engaged in full-time employment or a combination of employment and post-secondary education)
  • Further education rate was 47%

93% graduation rate.  That doesn’t exist anywhere.  But it does in JAG programs in 32 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Routinely.

This program has worked for more than 30 years.  And you know what?  2011 was the toughest funding year in JAG’s history.  2012 will be even more difficult.  Deep budget cuts at the state level for education programs were the norm in 2011 and will be more draconian in 2012.  Sharp budget cuts of federal funding to Governors adversely impacted 9 of 32 states in 2011 with more to come in 2012.

I find this astonishing.  The education of our nation’s youth is one of the biggest issues we face.  If we’re to be competitive in the global economy we must focus on the development of the talent we have.  And it all starts in our elementary, junior and high schools.

Last week I attended the yearly JAG Leadership Awards luncheon in Washington, D.C.  More than 450 JAG high school students raised money to travel to D.C. to attend this event and the follow-on conference.  Some of these kids flew on a plane for the first time last week.  Many of them wore a suit for the first time.  Most of them had never been to our nation’s capital.

These kids are the future of the United States.  And most of these kids would have been dropped by our education system had it not been for JAG.  This was made very clear to me at the end of the lunch.

I was caught in the crush of students headed to the escalators.  A young man looked at my badge and said, “You look important.”  I responded, “No more important than you!”  He then asked if I knew Ken Smith, the President and founder of JAG.  I told him I did indeed know Ken.  The young man then held out his hand to me and introduced himself:  “I’m Ken Watkins from South Carolina.  Would you introduce me to Ken Smith?”

We reversed our direction and headed to the front of the banquet room.  When we got there, I introduced the two Kens.  The student from South Carolina looked at the President of JAG and said, “I asked to meet you because I wanted to thank you for saving my life.”

It was a quick conversation and the elder Ken quite naturally told the young man that it was really his own commitment and perseverance that saved his life – and to keep up the hard work.  I think the younger Ken understood, but it was clearly important to him to thank the man who founded the organization that provided his safety net.  It was a very moving moment – for all of us.

So I think of the other 799,999 students like young Ken from South Carolina who, over 30+ years, have responded to the opportunities created by JAG and who have entered our economy as educated, hard working citizens and contributed to the economic success of the United States and their families.

It’s important to know that in these times of political dysfunction and lack of political leadership ,that there are people and organizations who keep the prize in mind.  Who keep moving us forward.  Organizations like JAG and CAEL.

So the next time a non-profit asks you to get involved, to make a donation or to serve on their board, please seriously consider their request.  We’re adding to the talent pipeline.  We’re educating our nation.  We’re saving lives.  And if you have jobs that young people could perform, find the JAG organization in your state and interview some JAG kids.  You’ll probably hire them all!

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Filed under CAEL, JAG, Leadership, Non-profit Board service, Talent development, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

Good news for the talent pipeline

I’ve long been concerned about the state of the talent pipeline in the United States.  That’s why I serve on the boards of CAEL (the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) and JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates).  These two non-profit organizations work on opposite ends of the education pipeline.  CAEL works to make lifelong learning available and affordable to working adults of all economic backgrounds.  JAG works to eradicate high school dropouts.  Both organizations are doing amazing work.  Visit CAEL’s website here and JAG’s website here.

 I’ve been very concerned (well, worried is a more accurate description) about the employability of young people entering the economy for the first time.  The data stream is robust in describing most high school and many college graduates as lacking in essential workplace skills.  Skills like reading and writing English, math, collaboration and teamwork, and dealing appropriately with the public appear to be lacking in these young people.  Additionally, real world abilities to take direction from a boss, arrive to work on time and carry out job assignments are in question.

 I was believing the data that said the U.S. was doomed.

 And then I was asked to speak at a career management conference last week for 60 college students at my alma mater, Principia College in the Midwest.  Initially I was to give a presentation titled Job Search and Social Networking.  I did that.  But because another conference presenter was unable to attend at the last minute, I also did sessions on Resumes and Cover Letters and Interviewing.

 While these 60 liberal arts college juniors and seniors may not be representative of the more than 1.6 million seniors who will graduate in 2011, they give me hope.  Lots and lots of hope!

 These kids were articulate and curious.  They asked great questions.  They spoke well, they wrote well (we had a resume writing lab from 7:30-11:30 one evening!), they were confident and they worked hard.  They were smart, charming, funny, engaged and had a strong, positive sense of their future. 

 More impressive to me was their understanding that the beginnings of their professional lives weren’t going to be a cake walk.  They had a real sense of the reality of the job market as well as the requirements of building a career through hard work.  These young people are going to show up for work and actually work!  I would be proud to have any of these young men and women on my staff. 

 I share this because my experience with these young people belie all the data that we’re seeing.  It’s easy for business leaders to get discouraged by focusing on the surveys that point out the shortcomings of those entering the workforce for the first time.  It’s easy for us to throw up our hands and start to send jobs to other regions of the world because we believe that their talent pipelines are more robust.

 But I encourage you to take another look.  And I really encourage you to spend some time with the career offices at colleges and universities near you.  Lend your real world expertise to these students when they need it most:  as they’re planning their first career steps.  Help them make wise choices.  Support their understanding about how the world of work really works. 

 You’ll make a huge impact and I think you’ll sleep a little easier.  And who knows, you might just find some talent that will fit your organization!

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Filed under Principia, Talent development, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized