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High-School Graduates Feel Ill-Equipped for Work

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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More and more high-school graduates who aren't attending college are feeling ill-equipped for the working world, according to a Rutgers University study.

Human resource leaders can help, experts say, by enlisting their companies to provide internships and mentoring services to area high school students, to help them be more confident about preparing for future careers.

In a national study of 544 high-school graduates released this month by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., fewer than one in 10 say their high-school education prepared them "extremely well" to get their first job or to be successful at it. The study, Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession, also found only 27 percent have full-time jobs, and the current median wage for those employed full-time was only $9.25 -- barely above the poverty level. In fact, nearly one in three are unemployed and another 15 percent are employed part-time but looking for full-time jobs, and seven in 10 say that their current job is temporary.

"This is the group that is really left out of the labor market -- at the bottom, if you will, of the 'American Experience,' " says Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the Heldrich Center.

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Companies can help alleviate these trends by providing both paid and unpaid internships, as well as mentoring programs, whereby their employees volunteer to mentor local high-school students, Van Horn says.

"Corporations in their community service programs can also help kids still in high school by explaining to them how important it is to get a post-secondary education -- not just to enroll, but to actually finish," he says.

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