Most teenagers are receiving little to no career guidance outside the home and are not pursuing the appropriate educational plan for real world career opportunities and business needs, according to a survey of more than 800 high school juniors and seniors nationwide. The survey was coordinated by the Ferris State University Career Institute for Education and Workforce Development and co-sponsored by the Precision Metalforming Association Educational Foundation (PMAEF), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Center for Workforce Success and the Associated Equipment Distributors Foundation (AEDF).
More than half of the students surveyed (51 percent) could not identify someone in high school who has been a mentor or especially helpful in advising them on career or job options. The vast majority (78 percent) credited their parents as their top adult influence, but the amount of time spent discussing careers was minimal (3 hours or less in the past few months), even in the home.
"High school students are making critical decisions about their career paths in a vacuum, unaware of the broad array of educational and employment opportunities available to them," says William Sederburg, president, Ferris State University. "The bias toward 4-year degrees is so pervasive that many students never explore other options." The survey shows 68 percent plan to go to a 4-year college. Forty-one percent attribute a sense of embarrassment to voc-ed training programs, and 45 percent said pursuing technical training might limit their career options. "Clearly, we need to improve the image of post-secondary education and training outside of the traditional 4-year college," says Mr. Sederburg.
When asked about the primary reasons for their career choices, less than 4 percent said "good pay" was instrumental in their decision, and less than 3 percent cited job availability. "Students' career choices are most often based on personal interest and not career opportunity. They are not taking the necessary educational steps or acquiring the right skills to pursue excellent, high-paying jobs in fields with severe worker shortages," says William E. Gaskin, president and secretary of PMAEF.
"The sponsoring groups will distribute this study broadly to educators, parents and employers in order to start a national dialogue about the need to beef up our career guidance system," says Matt DiIorio, executive director, AEDF. "Our simple goal is to provide training and a net for students walking the career-decision tightrope."