Keeping Youth on Track for Success

College isn’t the only answer, but young people need a chance to break the cycle of minimum wage poverty. That means one of three things needs to happen. A youth needs to leave high school with a marketable skill, a youth needs to get post-secondary skill training, or a youth needs to get post-secondary education. 

There are three primary barriers to graduation from high school, They include:

1. Poor academic preparation for learning skills and content knowledge.

  • No or poor pre-school prep.
  • Reading, writing amd math skills are below grade level.
  • Poor test scores or grades in critical content areas.

2. Psychological, behavioral, or learning challenges.

  • depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADD/AHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, attachment disorder, substance abuse, etc.

3. External factors or life events creating truancy issues or interrupting education

Court involvement or incarceration, family instability, transience or homelessness, sexual orientation or gender identity, abuse, bullying, hunger, pregnancy, etc.

There are two primary barriers to matriculation from high school to post-secondary training or education, They include:

4. Lack of financial resources

  • or at least the perception that those resources are available.

5. Family or cultural bias or inexperience in the matriculation process

  • Lack of parental or community support for education.
  • No effective hand-off from high school to college or training.

But there are five foundational factors which limit a youth’s horizons and possibilities. They include:

6. A hope and optimism deficit

  • Youth need to believe they have choices, that there is a path to personal success, happiness, and independence, and that that path is open to them.

7. Insufficient experience of or exposure to career options

  • Youth need effective career counseling, job modeling, and individual alignment (is a particular career path a good fit based on a youth’s gifts, passions, and aspirations).

8. No real-world financial understanding and aspirational alignment

  • Youth need to understand how much difference post-secondary education or skills training can make in terms of immediate earnings as well as life-long earning potential and how that figure translates into lifestyle.

9. Lack of a clear and detailed career transition plan and support network

  •  Where do I want to go?
  •  What are the action steps that will get me there?
  •  Who can I turn to for help?

10. Lack of basic life-work success skills

  •  Personal presentation and commuication skills.
  •  Resilience: the capacity to bounce back from adversity and manage changes effectively.
  • A strong work ethic.

These last five foundational factors are the areas the Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Course and related publications are designed to impact. Without hope and optimism, exposure to possible career options, some real-world financial understanding, a clear and detailed career transition plan and support network and some basic life-work succes skills, our at-risk youth will be locked into a nearly unbreakable cycle of minimum wage poverty.