In 2009 I found myself unemployable after working 25 years for the same company as an executive in entertainment business management. My resume was filled with examples of my ability to manage multiple projects at once. I enjoyed the day to day operations of a business while also pursuing my passion for supporting youth. I had even accomplished the personal goal of writing, and publishing a book.
To me, I had so many hard skills. Not to mention soft skills like critical thinking, creative problem solving, and my self-starter “decide and do” personality. But none of these fit into the narrow descriptors of resumes and applications. What was I missing? A college degree. It didn’t matter what type, only that I didn’t have one. But in my mind, I already had a Masters Degree in Follow Through. So while I had measurable skills, without a degree, I was unemployable.
So, what are employers looking for now? Skills. Especially ones that answer the question “How can you make me money and solve my problems?” I’ve heard from countless employers and HR directors about the number of job seekers lacking business acumen and skills. Many college graduates I spoke with felt duped, having attended college and acquired a degree, only to find themselves unemployable and lacking skills. They’re making minimum wage and those hefty tuition debt payments are now due. And that college degree...many college graduates don’t even use their degree. They are working in completely unrelated fields and still paying down debt, sometimes in excess of $150,000. This doesn’t even account for the rate of dropout students.
We’ve reached a point where it’s critical that we the people broaden the narrative around higher education by acknowledging that college is not the only path to success and supporting vocational school and skill acquisition through student apprenticeships in the areas of Business Operations, Technology, Education, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Sales, and all Trades. These opportunities can often result in full-time employment right out of high school with the possibility of higher education being shared by the employer, if actually needed or required.
The more our society finds ways to integrate apprenticeships into the curriculum of high school where youth can explore a variety of industries through business partnerships before making a decision about the next step in their life, the more supported and guided our youth will feel, no matter which path they ultimately choose. It is our hope this important message will take root across this country where our joint efforts raise awareness and change takes place through our actions.
Thank you for joining our movement!
Co-Founder of Alyn Vaughn