Books. Helping Teens Find their Future

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




(2000), "Books. Helping Teens Find their Future", Education + Training, Vol. 42 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Books. Helping Teens Find their Future


Helping Teens Find their Future

Kenneth GraySage1999ISBN: 0761975152£13.99

Keywords: Young people, Higher education, Career planning, USA

Because of poor planning, or no planning at all, most teenagers head off to college, ready or not. Predictably, many of them fail. Some drop out. Others fail to find employment commensurate with their skills.

Helping Teens Find their Future seeks to improve the odds. It aims to illuminate the quiet dilemma in the United States that stems from the mismatch between teenagers' aspirations and the economic and labour-market realities they will face as adults, and to guide educators, parents, employers and anyone else interested in helping teenagers to develop career direction and so make better post-secondary education decisions.

Gray, professor of education at the Penn State University, USA, highlights that there are "other ways to win" than through the usual route of a three- or four-year university degree. In particular, he highlights the high-skill, high-wage technical careers that may require further or higher education, but not a full degree course. Among the alternatives to a degree course he outlines:

  • tech-prep courses;

  • formal apprenticeship programmes;

  • vocational education;

  • employer-employee provided training; and

  • military training.

He says that teenagers are not entirely to blame for overlooking these alternative ways to career success. Conventional wisdom actually works to downplay, if not discourage, career decisions. Furthermore, overexpansion of higher education has removed most of the barriers to admission, including ability to do university-level academic study.

Part 1 provides background information necessary for career development. Chapter 2 discusses the labour-market realities that the current generation of teenagers will face and exposes the folly of several pervasive but harmful pieces of advice given to teenagers about career decision making. Chapter 3 provides details regarding career opportunities. Chapter 4 discusses the importance of countering occupational stereotypes that tend to limit opportunity for women and the disadvantaged.

The chapters in part 2 provide detailed information and strategies for career-development programmes. Chapter 5 outlines tactics to foster career maturity among today's youths. Chapter 6 discusses various post-secondary options for teenagers. Chapter 7 provides specific messages for talking to parents and the business community.

The final chapter summarizes the issues. It discusses the wisdom of continuing the practice of giving young people a steady diet of "nutritional lies".

The book is set in an American context, but many of the issues discussed are equally applicable to other developed western nations.

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