Why is it so difficult to find a job nowadays? There is an obvious answer to this question — our economy. But then, how do we boost our economy both today and into the future? And how do we better prepare workers — especially young people — for jobs in the 21st century workplace and global economy?

Policy makers, businesses and many others are trying to solve these problems; however, there is no simple way to tackle these issues. Gaston Caperton, the president of The College Board and former governor of West Virginia, offers his insight in his Huffington Post article,”Addressing America’s Growing Education Deficit.”

Caperton suggests that the U.S. is losing its ability to compete globally because our education system is failing too many of our young people. As a result, many are ill-prepared to work and face unemployment, and the country loses a potential workforce to prosper in a global market. As the recent College Board report suggests, the unemployment rate is more than three times higher for a young person without a high school diploma than the one with a college degree. There is a strong link between education and job-readiness. Moreover, the report offers details on our education system.

  • The U.S. is ranked 12th in education attainment, after Russia, Japan and Korea- We used to be number one.
  • Only about 47 % of low-income 3-to-5 year olds are enrolled in pre-K programs although the foundation for higher education starts at early age
  • Each year, 1.3 million students drop out of high school
  • Only about half of African American and Latino students earn a high school diploma
  • In middle and high schools, there is only one counselor for every 467 students. In some places it is as high as 1 to 800 students
  • Almost 45% of students who enter college seeking a bachelor’s degree do not graduate

Caperton offers, however, an uplifting goal to have 55 percent of young Americans earn a college degree or higher by 2025. “The real engine of economic growth and the key to our global competitiveness [is] education,” he says. A lack of education is one of the causes of economic crisis, and a solution for it originates in education.

Corporate Voices for Working Families believes that obtaining postsecondary education is critical for the workforce of the future and for America’s economic competitiveness. We are currently researching many Learn and Earn models in which businesses form partnerships with local community colleges and other education providers to help younger workers work while getting their postsecondary education. Additional information, research and publications involving the full range of our workforce readiness work are available on the Corporate Voices website.

By Keiko Iioka

Keiko is working with Corporate Voices as an intern following her graduation from American University with a degree in international studies.