Increasing Productivity

Increasing productivity is key to the success of America’s businesses. At the same time that the workforce is growing more slowly than before, businesses need even better-skilled and better-educated employees than in the past, while also increasing worker productivity.[i] Unfortunately, far too many young people are failing to gain marketable skills from their time spent in school. (Click here to learn more about how improving graduation rates improves the economy.) This is creating “skills gaps,” situations where employers will continually have trouble finding the people who can fill the skilled jobs they will have to offer. Increasing high school graduation rates saves communities money and better prepares kids for success in college and career. (Learn more.)

To help address the skills gaps, America’s Edge supports efforts to connect high school students to real world experiences and help them graduate with the skills businesses need. America’s Edge is focusing on innovative education models, along with rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems to ensure that students are college and career ready. (Learn more.) Educational standards and aligned assessments will help students master core academic content, and train them to think critically, solve complex problems, and communicate effectively (i.e. deeper learning skills) that they will need to be competitive in today’s highly-skilled workforce. (Learn more.)

Click here to learn more about standards for math and standards for English language arts.

Innovative high school education models, which connect academics and hands-on learning opportunities to actual needs in the state’s economy, further prepare students for success in both college and career. (Learn more.) Innovative high school education models, such as “Career Academies,“ ­have already spread across America with approximately 2,500 sites and can help students learn the skills to compete in today’s competitive global market.

Career Academies are career-themed schools that:

  •  Provide internships and experience for students who have a desire to gain practical job skills. Career Academies have alliances with local employers with whom students connect both during the school year and upon graduation.[ii]
  • In addition to providing job training, Career Academies provide high school education curricula that will allow the students to continue their education beyond high school if they choose to do so.[iii]
  • The Academies are often located in cities, and though 85 percent of the young people in a recent large national study of the program were Hispanic or African-American, they serve students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, not just at-risk youth.[iv]

As many innovative programs have discovered, changing the life trajectory of teenage boys and girls is not easy. That is why it is so important that a randomized evaluation of the widely utilized Career Academies model showed very encouraging results:

  • Whether measured in average hours worked per week or monthly earnings, the young people who went through Career Academies were making 11 percent more money and were working 12 percent more hours per week than those not in the program.[v]
  • For the males in the program, the results were even more impressive: Through a combination of increased wages, hours worked, and employment stability, real earnings for young men in the [Career Academies] group increased by $3,731 (17 percent) per year – or nearly $30,000 over eight years.[vi]

To put those results in the perspective of employers, the young men from Career Academies were economically productive enough – they showed up and did their work well enough – that their employers invested 17 percent more in wages for them than they invested in the young men who were randomly assigned not to participate in the program.  And that 17 percent increase in productivity from graduates of the program keeps on accumulating year after year.[vii]

From the perspective of the community, the young men in the program – who made enough to become viable breadwinners – were a third more likely to be married and living with their spouse. They were also 45 percent more likely to be living with their children than those who were randomly assigned to not participate in Career Academies.[viii]

Research on Career Academies confirms that helping young people get the training they will need to succeed in a career is good for businesses, the economy, and communities.

In California, America’s Edge is supporting efforts to provide high school students with real-world experiences and help them graduate with the skills California businesses need through Linked Learning, a promising education approach that combines rigorous academics, relevant career education and hands-on learning opportunities that connect to actual needs in the state’s economy.

What is Linked Learning?

California’s high schools are not working for large numbers of young people. Almost a third of new ninth-graders drop out before graduating. Another third finish high school but lack the academic and technical readiness to succeed in college or career. Only a third of high school students in California graduate on time and transition easily to postsecondary education and lasting career success.

 

Linked Learning offers a promising approach to improving high schools while also connecting to actual needs in our state’s economy. It provides a challenging vehicle that inspires students to learn, and gives students access to education that is both rigorous and relevant. The great promise of pathways is the ability to make learning real and exciting for the thousands of students who are bored with conventional high school curricula. Whether they aspire to become doctors or medical technicians, architects or carpenters, all students hunger for the answer to a simple question: “Why do I need to learn this?”

 

Click here to view more information on Linked Learning for Business Leaders.

Source: ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career


[i] Kirsch, I., Braun, H., & Yamamoto, K. (2007). America’s perfect storm: Three forces changing our nation’s future. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Services. Retrieved on April 21, 2010 from http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/AmericasPerfectStorm.pdf

[ii] Kemple, J.J., & Snipes, JC. (2000). Career Academies: Impacts on students’ engagement and performance in high school. New York: MDRC; Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[iii] Kemple, J.J., & Snipes, JC. (2000). Career Academies: Impacts on students’ engagement and performance in high school. New York: MDRC; Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[iv] Kemple, J.J., & Snipes, JC. (2000). Career Academies: Impacts on students’ engagement and performance in high school. New York: MDRC; Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[v] Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[vi] Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[vii] Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.

[viii] Kemple, J.J., & Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York: MDRC.