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Wall Street Journal Market Watch

 

Instead Of Taking Kids To Work, Bring Work To Kids

April 24, 2014

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

As if you don't already have enough to do at the office, the non-profit Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation wants you to do just that today. Originally started by the Ms. Foundation in 1992 as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, it was expanded to include boys in 2003.

Take Your Daughter to Work Day was the brainchild of feminists, including Gloria Steinem, who believed that girls were disadvantaged. But data show that it is boys who are disadvantaged. They have lower grades, lower graduation rates, and earn a lower percentage of college degrees, from associates to doctorates. Rather than ending the program, the foundation added boys.

It seems to me that a day trip to the office doesn't tell young people much about the workplace. Plus, they might miss important work at school. As one 15-year-old told me: “If I went to work with my father, I would probably be sitting around while he gazed over spreadsheets on his computer.”

I called foundation President Carolyn McKecuen, who's based in North Carolina, to ask her why she is encouraging 26 million children to miss school. (The event is held on the last Thursday in April.)

McKecuen told me: “I think the program is most valuable outside New York, or to kids in New York in low-income housing.” She explained that many young people don't know about jobs beyond nursing or McDonald's, and they come to the program and are inspired to do better in school and strive for college. “Missing one day of school does not matter,” she said, if it results in more ambition and harder work in the future.

McKecuen operates the foundation on a budget of $146,000 a year, which comes from companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS), MetLife Inc. (NYSE:MET), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) and Darden Restaurants Inc.'s (NYSE:DRI) Olive Garden. The foundation has programs in about 200 countries, including India, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

McKecuen is trying to fill a void that is caused by cultural and institutional factors. In single-parent families, many children don't know their father, let alone what their father's jobs is — if the dads are even employed. Schools cannot fix that, but they could be encouraging vocational education programs that teach children hands-on skills.

Vocational education has been out of fashion for the past 25 years because educators thought children were being tracked into blue-collar professions at an early age. But with youth unemployment for the 20 to 24 age group stuck at 12%, and skilled-trades jobs high-paying and unfilled, educators are starting to rethink that strategy.

Federal and state governments are increasingly becoming aware of the possibilities of vocational education.

The Labor Department is allocating $100 million from revenues from H-1B visas to Youth Career Connect, a program that gives money to schools for vocational training, partnerships with businesses, and career counseling to explore skills-based opportunities after high school. If Congress were to increase the number of H1-B visas, the Labor Department could gain even more revenue for this program.

Last year North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that creates three different high school diplomas: college-bound, career-bound or both. High school students in North Carolina can choose classes that include a career cluster specializing in agriculture, health sciences, hospitality and tourism, and business, among others.

The Manufacturing Institute's Skills Gap Survey, conducted in 2011, estimated that 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled because employers cannot find skilled workers. An Economic Policy Institute study, ironically titled “Why Claims of Skills Shortages in Manufacturing Are Overblown,” reports that 24% of manufacturers have vacancies unfilled for over three months and 16% of plant managers replied that “lack of access to skilled workers is a major obstacle to increasing financial success.”

In the Wall Street Journal on April 22 , Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel recommended that young people be encouraged to learn welding, which pays six-figure salaries. To give just one example, in 2013 Ohio's Pioneer Pipe paid 60% of its welders more than $150,000 a year.

In Munster, Ohio, Jack Buschur, an electrician and entrepreneur, has founded the Auglaize & Mercer County Business Education Alliance. It will fund skilled-trades ambassadors to visit high schools to encourage students to study welding, plumbing or electrical services. Rather than taking young people to work, Ohio will have the work come to students.

In order to learn about work, young people should have more vocational opportunities within a school curriculum, as many schools are starting to do now. Someone should start the national Bring Work to Our Children Day.

Original Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/instead-of-taking-kids-to-work-bring-work-to-kids-2014-04-24

 

 
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