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Landing that life changing job...at age 10

For a few hundred years in the United States, the quality of life has improved from one generation to the next.  Not until recently did we begin to see data showing subsequent generations forecast as being "worse off" than their progenitors.

Perhaps, an indicator (or at least a symptom) of this prognostication is that many of my fellow baby boomers have adult children or grandchildren living at home with them.  Among these younger ones are digital natives with much more sophisticated lifestyles than I led in my youth, yet even with this technological sophistication, they seem to be staying children longer.

No matter how much "worse off" the next generation ultimately proves to be, no one can argue that they have it as bad as 10 year old children just after the Civil War.  At that time, children that age and younger worked in shops, factories and other business concerns.  But if they lived through that first work experience, as adults they were likely to be better off than their parents, having developed a work ethic and employability skills.

So, maybe the solution is putting kids back to work at age 10.  I am trying to imagine my 10 year old, 5th grade daughter looking through the "Want Ads," for a job that suits her.  Will she even comprehend some of the words that make up many Job Titles?  Maybe not, but that's what a dictionary (or Google) is for, right?  As she reads on she will learn the types of skills and experience needed for each job.  Most jobs will also list a minimum educational requirement or specific certifications.

Then there's the resume', the application, the interview.  Hmm.  Maybe it's too much to expect from a 5th grader.  Or is it?  At JA BizTown, each academic year, over 5,000 local 5th grade students take on jobs for the day that they previously found in the JA BizTown "Want Ads."  They completed applications and if they had sufficient class time and a really industrious teacher, they may have even gone through job interviews to land their JA BizTown Dream Job.

And this year, my daughter's class will be among the first to experience the new Delaware Pathways Career Exploration Center and the DNREC Career Cafe' in JA BizTown.  Both of these new experiences are designed to connect students to Delaware Pathways careers and to the Pathways offered in their school districts.

So, rather than imagine 5th grade CEOs, CFOs, Insurance Agents, Communication Specialists, Loan Managers, and Production Supervisors, you can come see for yourself as a JA BizTown volunteer why 10 is the perfect age to take on a life changing career. 

What if we could "flip a switch" and have disconnected kids value education

Young people can accomplish so much of what they need to do in a day with just the push of a button.

Much of what used to involve getting up and going someplace or getting together with other people is now accessible within the palm of your hand…without so much as looking up.

So how do we expect struggling tweens and teens to make investments in the future when instantaneous results and immediate gratification are often one click away?  Maybe if there was a place where they could go to see a glimpse into the future, then they might make better school-related decisions today.

Something akin to a Dickensian theme park where the ghosts of things to come magically, mysteriously (and ominously) portray the results of today’s uninformed decisions or stunted growth mindsets.  Or, perhaps, a more Capraesque Virtual Reality experience where they work beside underdogs who overcome great adversity and go on to do great things.

A place where we could get them thinking about the life they want and how the ride there could be made smoother by more focused attention on their education.  A place where, say 10% of the kids who walk in the door saying they won’t graduate high school end up changing their minds before they walk out the door again.

A place where 15% of the kids that walk in saying they are unlikely to graduate from a 4-year college suddenly change their response and say they are likely to graduate with a 4-year degree.

And what if we could move the needle on that group of youngsters for whom a Bachelors Degree isn’t likely or necessary to having a rewarding career?  What if we could get 25% of those students who say they are unlikely to graduate from a 2-year college to change their minds in just four hours?

Well, we can.  And you don’t have to buy plane tickets, meal plans and express passes to do it.  All you have to do is make sure your students experience JA Finance Park®, where the “theme” is all about taking stock of your aspirations and becoming “adults for a day.”  And as inspiring as it is, there is nothing magical about it.  Just combine 12 prep lessons at school with a real-world simulation at JA Finance Park, and you will see similar results.

On November 29 as we cut the ribbon on the new Delaware Pathways center in JA Finance Park along with Governor Carney, DNREC Secretary Garvin and Woodbridge School District Superintendent Heath Chasanov,  Junior Achievement of Delaware officially kicked off its new partnership with Delaware Technical Community College as a Work-Based Learning Activity Provider for Delaware Pathways.  Now every student experiencing JA Finance Park will have Delaware career Pathway and associated salary information at their fingertips as an integral part of this world-class simulation.

Rob Eppes, President, Junior Achievement of Delaware


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