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CTE Students Better Prepared for Teen Employment


May 10, 2013



CTE Students Better Prepared for Teen Employment

Recently the Commonwealth Corporation and the Drexel University Center for Labor Markets and Policy joined forces to try and understand the decline in teen employment in Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects. They found that part of the reason for this decline can be attributed to teens' poor interviewing skills and workplace behaviors--with the exception of CTE students.

In Massachusetts, teen employment has decreased from 53 percent to 26.8 percent from 1999 to 2012, similar to the nationwide decline in teen employment. Data shows that "historically teen occupations"-service sector jobs in retail, restaurants, etc. -are being filled instead by workers aged 55 and older.

Commonwealth Corporation and Drexel studied approximately 200 employers, most of whom were located in Massachusetts. According to these employers, teens are still applying for jobs, and their math, reading and writing skills are comparable to adults applying for entry-level jobs. So why aren't they being hired?

The study findings show that, while many employers hesitate to hire youth under 18 because of legal reasons and scheduling concerns, part of the drop in youth employment is owing to employer perceptions of teens' inadequate preparation for work:


  • Teens have less acceptable workplace behaviors than adults or college students, particularly when it comes to punctuality, attendance and quit rates
  • Teens are unprepared for the hiring process, particularly when it comes to projecting a positive image
  • Employers find it difficult to connect with high school teachers or guidance counselors


CTE is the exception to the above. Employers use CTE participation as a signal that they are more likely to get a productive employee with a strong work ethic and good self-presentation skills, and they find it easier to develop relationships with teachers and counselors at CTE-focused schools.


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