Every young person graduating from high school is facing a triple whammy of very difficult economic realities.
- A youth unemployment rate that has hovered in the high teens since 2009 and has reached as high as 33% for some minorities.
- Skyrocketing education costs that can leave young people in debt for years into the future.
- A declining labor market as employers make do with fewer employees to offset rising costs such as health care.
So what’s a kid to do?
About a year ago I related the story of Amy who had graduated from high school in 2006 and had gone through some tough times including dropping out of college, some serious medical costs, a pregnancy and a failed resale clothing store (see A True Story With Many Lessons). At her lowest point, she was broke with a daughter to raise.
Then she took some good advice and enrolled in a two-month course at the community college to become a certified dental assistant. Her grandmother paid the few hundred dollars in tuition and two weeks after graduation she began a full-time job in a dental office making $12.50 an hour. Not a great deal, but a beginning.
And it gets better.
A few weeks ago, she met a financial advisor who was looking for a marketing assistant. He thought she had a positive personality and offered her the position. She has been on the job for a couple of weeks making more with a lot of growth potential.
What’s the point?
There are a lot of jobs out there that are in demand that let a young person get started in the work force with little or no training and, therefore, with little cost. Yes, the pay is typically not great, but it’s a foot in the door. The young person can explore the career field while getting paid.
These jobs are a low-risk way to learn about a field before investing time and money in a professional education. For example, two-months of training as a dental assistant can allow a person to see if they really like the field before spending four years training to be a dental hygienist or even longer to become a dentist.
Why are these jobs in demand? Typically, there is a lot of turnover because the pay is low and people tend to move on. They also require physical contact with people which means they can’t be shipped overseas and they can’t be done by a robot.
Here is a short list to give you the idea:
- Dental Assistant
- Fitness Trainer
- Medical Assistant
- Aerobic Instructor
- Physical Therapy Assistant
- Construction Laborer
- Home Health Aide
- Coach and Scout
- Pharmacy Technician
Here’s another indirect path to a possible career.
You may also recall The Quarter Tank Principle from February in which I related how my grandson learned about the cost of owning a truck after he got one for his 16th birthday.
During the summers of his 8th and 9th grade years, he worked at the YMCA in the day camp program. Since he was under 16, they couldn’t actually hire him, but he volunteered and his dad paid him for the few hours he worked each week. During those summers, he showed up, did his job and got to know the YMCA staff. Now that he is 16, they have offered him a paid summer job.
Not only will he have a summer job which can be a tough thing to find these days, but he will be exploring a possible future career. Should he decide to go into the fields of recreation or coaching or social work, he will have an understanding of what the work really is. Or, he may decide it’s not for him. He will also get a chance to see the whole range of career opportunities that are available in this organization and that can’t hurt.
Charles Wilkinson, Publisher