The Uncertain Pathway from Youth to a Good Job
Over the past several decades, the pathway to a good job has become longer and more challenging for young adults to navigate. Today, most young workers do not attain a good job until their early 30s, and only young workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are consistently more likely than those in the previous generation to have a good job before age 30. Further, the disparities in good jobs by race/ethnicity and gender persist.
To secure a good job, young adults need more education and high-quality work experience than was necessary for previous generations. But three hurdles stand in their way:
- the rising cost of postsecondary education,
- limited access to high-quality work-based learning, and
- the absence of comprehensive counseling and career navigation services.
What Is a Good Job?
Seven Recommendations for Comprehensive Reform
- Embrace our country’s diversity and reject racial/ethnic and gender injustice, including through investments in culturally responsive teaching and counseling.
- Apply an equity lens to all policy and programmatic reforms by measuring inequality and crafting policies and programs designed to address it.
- Provide targeted, wraparound educational and social supports to young people from cradle to career, including universal pre-kindergarten and equitably funded public schools.
- Invest in programs that treat education and labor markets as a single system extending from early childhood to the first good job, including those with strong employer involvement.
- Help young people—especially those who are most marginalized by the education system—pursue and attain their education and career goals simultaneously using career exposure and work-based learning.
- Create a transparent, data-based education and career navigation system that is accountable for making outcomes more effective and equitable.
- Make college more affordable and more convenient by investing in free college, incremental credentialing, community college baccalaureate programs, and better transfer pathways.