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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Combining Work and Learning to Launch Young Adults Into Careers

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October 7, 2013

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Combining Work and Learning to Launch Young Adults Into Careers

Young adults are delaying their launch into careers and taking longer to achieve median earnings, according to a new report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. The publication proposes helping younger people ramp up into careers through work-based learning, flexible work arrangements and transparency about how education connects to careers.

According to authors Carnevale, Hanson and Gulish, the typical career lifespan has shifted. Young adults are entering the workforce later, and they are taking longer to reach the national median wage. This is particularly true for young men, African-Americans and those with a high school diploma as their highest credential. In addition, young workers are increasingly take part in lower-wage service work, while many older adults are staying in the workforce in higher-paying professional and technical occupations. 

Despite this, the researchers do not support the common perception that older adults are crowding younger people out of the job market: They cite evidence that there are more job openings owing to retirements per young person today than there were in the 1990s. Rather, education and training budget cuts may be part of the reason young adults are "failing to launch."  

To combat these challenges, "young adults will need to mix work and learning at earlier stages to accelerate their launch into full-time careers." The report also supports greater investment in education and greater transparency about the relationship between education and workplace outcomes.

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