Pandemic draws high school grads to skip college, fill worker shortage

High school graduates increasingly are opting to fill worker vacancies as an alternative to college amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a school-to-career vocational training program.

Jobs for America’s Graduates provides vocational training to 75,000 middle and high school students in 40 states and two U.S. territories. It reports that a record 82% of its graduating students went directly into full-time employment at the end of the 2020-21 academic year — an unprecedented percentage, compared to the previous high of 76%.

“The biggest change is that our young people are getting far more full-time jobs and with benefits, the most in our history,” said Ken Smith, president of the Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit. “Also, more front-line health care jobs than usual is a second important change.”

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