Preparing students for the job market opportunities of the future.

Good morning, Parents.

I would like to deliver some very important good news for parents this morning (news you may already be well aware of), but in the process also try to make you aware of the educational preparation realities that comes along with it.  We have been hearing for some time now from businesses, LTC, workforce development committees, and experts sharing workforce projections, that with the rapidly retiring baby-boom generation of workers, there is going to be great need for workers in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, and around the country.  Our students are going to be graduating into an economy that increasingly needs workers desperately.  These projections are very reassuring for me as a parent, and I am guessing most parents react in a similar manner.  We all want our kids to have plenty of opportunities and a very real chance to be successful in life, and these projections suggest our children will likely have greater opportunities than some of the generations before them.
The critical truth behind this positive news, however, also has to be discussed and prepared for if our students are truly going to be prepared for these career opportunities.  While the job market will be dramatically opening as our students become young adults, that job market is also dramatically changing.  The percentage of professional jobs will remain relatively consistent (about 20 percent of the jobs in today’s job market are professional jobs and the projections suggest that will remain the same), the projections also strongly indicate that a huge percentage of unskilled jobs will shift and require skilled and trained workers.  Many Sheboygan area companies already have significant needs for skilled workers and this trend only appears to be on the increase. The truth is that unskilled jobs are dwindling down to 10-15% of the workforce as many of these jobs are changing in nature to require skilled workers.
So what exactly does that mean for our students as they prepare for these opportunities in the future?  Most skilled jobs require some post high school training.  Depending on the nature of the skilled job, that training may range from a few months or a semester, to a couple or a few years of training.  Many companies seem willing to invest in this training if they can get quality workers and retain them.
Backing up the preparation process one more step to focus on high school preparation we should ask, what do students need when they leave high school to be accepted into most technical training programs that will prepare them for a wide range of these skilled job opportunities?  Well, they clearly need solid academic skills in math, reading and writing.  Many technical training programs require an ACT math composite score of 18 or the equivalent on the Accuplacer.  Reading comprehension is the second primary focus of admission into technical training programs.
Our goals at OHS support the belief that we need to produce students who have the academic and job skills necessary to either pursue a professional career after succeeding in college, or a skilled profession after successfully completing a technical training program.  We want our students to leave OHS with the preparation necessary to be fully positioned to take advantage of the opportunities the job market will provide their generation and we all must recognize that a considerable portion of those opportunities (60-70%) will fall in the skilled jobs area.  It is exciting to see that many of those skilled jobs are going to provide excellent careers for our students.
We would really encourage parents to discuss these exciting projections about the huge need for skilled workers with your children.  Help them explore they types of jobs and professions that may interest them personally.  And as part of that discussion, please help them to see how the classes they are taking now are critical as they prepare for these quality opportunities in the future.
In upcoming messages/blogs, I will share some of the specific things we are doing at OHS to better prepare students for the opportunities of the future job market.
Have a great Homecoming week,
Scott