What's the single best idea to jumpstart job creation?
I agree with Frederick Hess that overhauling career and technical education would be the single best way to fight unemployment. According to research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, between now and 2018, the fastest-growing occupations will be "mid-skill" jobs--like dental hygienist, construction manager, police officer, paralegal, and electrician--that require an associate's degree or occupational certificate, but not a four-year college education.
Unfortunately, if we wait until adulthood to offer workers vocational training, we risk leaving far too many of them behind. Unemployment among young people without a college degree is high, at 22.5 percent, and staggering among young people without a high school degree, at 42.7 percent. And with about half of inner-city high school students dropping out, a full 18 percent of 16 to 24-year olds are considered "disconnected youth"--neither enrolled in school nor working, stuck rudderless in a harshly unforgiving economy.
Such individuals, if they are lucky enough to find work, often become mired in low-wage, service sector jobs with few employee benefits and unstable hours. There are other options, but we need public schools to do their part in guiding students toward them. This means eschewing nice-sounding "college for all" rhetoric and instead embracing curricular reforms that introduce teenagers to all of the many opportunities available to them in the world of work.