For many students, for many reasons, college may not be an option. Yet, many alternative paths exist that can lead to well-paying jobs and long-term financial stability. As stakeholders at businesses, schools, nonprofits, and the community, we have an opportunity to help all students understand their options and support them in taking the next step toward a better future.
Here are four facts to consider as we approach this important topic for our community:
34,000 adults ages 18 and older in central Iowa do not have a high school diploma (U.S. Census).
Although graduation rates have been rising in central Iowa, many students are still not graduating from high school – and many adults still do not have a diploma. Without a diploma, many adults will struggle to find jobs that pay enough to achieve financial stability. A high school dropout, throughout their lifetime, earns an average of $700,000 less than a high school graduate. (National Center for Education Statistics; 2016)
Middle-skill jobs will account for an estimated 24% of job growth from 2010 to 2025 (Iowa: Workforce and Trends through 2025).
Employers cannot find enough workers to fill middle-skill jobs. Just over half of all jobs in central Iowa require some postsecondary education up to an associate’s degree, and only 32% of the workforce has the right skills for these jobs (Iowa Workforce Development, 2015). The top 10 fastest-growing, middle-skill jobs – including occupational therapy assistant, industrial machinery mechanic, and carpenter – pay an average yearly salary of $50,000 (Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Wage Report, 2017).
Iowa schools have 1 counselor for every 423 students (Iowa School Counselors and College and Career Readiness, 2016).
This student-to-counselor ratio is 69% below the recommended 250:1 ratio. Counselors can help students evaluate their options and identify the right path after high school, but many counselors may not have the capacity to fully support every student.
We can help students make the connection between school and the next step in their lives.
We all have an opportunity to help students find direction and purpose that can lead them to graduate and take the next step. Research-based recommendations include giving students opportunities to explore real-world activities, supporting policies that require all students to have personalized learning plans, and expanding apprenticeships to help students earn while they learn.
All of these opportunities and more will be explored in-depth the November 8 summit. You can also learn more by downloading this new one-pager developed by our Community Impact - Education team.