High School Diploma Not Enough in Today’s Labor Market

The whole objective of education is to prepare students for success in the industry of their choice. But lately, more than ever, the definition of “success” is changing. Is it job satisfaction? Personal growth and development? Or is it just looking at the bottom line?
The only real answer to that question is that success is different for each person. All we can do when educating students is to provide different paths to achieving the success that they want. Education, at any level, is important in that it gives students the skills and knowledge they need to reach their ambitions.
In the past high school diplomas were enough to guarantee students this type of success. Focusing on the three R’s- reading, writing, and arithmetic- students left high school ready to make an impact in the workforce and chase their definition of success.
Today, however, that’s really not the case. Students entering the labor market need to focus on what educators are referring to as the four C’s- critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Young men and women starting out need these skills more than anything. Employers want to see that they can be thrown into a situation and not just crunch a list of numbers, but see the importance behind those numbers; see how those numbers affect the bottom line, how they can be improved or what they mean in different circumstances with different clients.
The bottom line (no pun intended) is that a high school diploma no longer guarantees these skills, or more importantly, no longer guarantees success in the workforce. The labor market today requires that students go one step beyond, getting a post-secondary degree or industry recognized certificate in order to have a successful career.
Vocational education is a great way for students to achieve this. By attending a vocational school they can not only gain a more in depth education past high school but learn a marketable skill. Students refusing to continue education past high school are hindering themselves, their future, and their chance for success; however they define it.

LA ORT is a group of nonprofit junior colleges in Los Angeles and Van Nuys provide career training in short term courses.