- Most middle class jobs now require education beyond high school; however, even though graduation rates are increasing, students are often less ready for college and career success than in the past according to the Hechinger Report.
- Schools need to find better ways to engage students in thinking about their future by increasing apprenticeships and industry partners, creating pathways to future job clusters, and fostering critical thinking and soft skills students will need in the future.
- Schools also need to provide more help for students as they decide on higher education options and apply for student aid as many either drop out of college early or end up with massive student debt.
The industrial revolution signaled a change in education as businesses began to rely less on child labor and the country began to see the value in providing a free education to students. Once again, the marketplace is impacting the way schools educate students. A new level of automation in industry is again reducing the need for some positions in the workplace. In other cases, positions are being replaced by the need for workers with special skills that often require additional training after high school.
Schools are struggling to connect students with the jobs and to prepare them for jobs that have not been invented yet. Schools can increase industry and business partnerships and develop apprenticeship opportunities. Creating pathways to a specific job track can help students remain engaged in education while giving them a foot in the door of an industry that they want to pursue.
Schools can also focus on providing the basic skills students need to succeed in college or careers. Even though high school graduation rates are up, there is evidence that these diplomas may not mean as much as in the past. Many students are not performing on grade level when they graduate and college professors are reporting that fewer are ready for college level work. Even though schools may not know what jobs will exist in the future, they can provide a better foundation for those jobs by providing important skills.