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High school dropouts struggle to find jobs in Ohio

Sep. 09, 2013 @ 11:21 AM

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Dropping out of high school has left many Ohioans struggling to find work as the demand for unskilled labor continues to decline.

A Dayton Daily News analysis of federal labor statistics shows that dropouts who are 25 or older are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as diploma-earning peers. In 2012, only about 30 percent of Ohioans 25 or older who didn’t finish high school had jobs. That leaves about 561,000 people without diplomas who were also without jobs last year.

The statistics reflect more demand for workers with technical skills and increased global competition for jobs. The Alliance for Excellent Education, based in Washington, says employers increasingly want workers with more education than high school.

“The majority of jobs in today’s knowledge-based economy require a high school diploma at minimum, and in most cases they need some form of education after high school,” said Jason Amos, vice president of communications for the nonprofit organization.

Ohio high school graduates on average earn $7,500 more annually than dropouts. College graduates on average earn $27,000 more than those who didn’t finish high school.

State statistics also show that some eight in 10 convicts entering the Ohio prison system didn’t have a high school diploma.

Experts say early intervention is critical. Students might drop out because of a pregnancy or other life event. Feeling they cannot succeed or escape living in poverty are among other reasons people drop out.

Early intervention and exploring alternative education that focuses on job preparation and allows students flexible learning can help.

Dayton-based Sinclair Community College has a Fast Forward Center to help counsel and provide resources to students ages 16-21 who have dropped out or aren’t attending school regularly.

Albert Rankin said he started skipping school because he had trouble concentrating on classwork at Dayton Dunbar High School. He went to the Fast Forward Center, then enrolled in a charter school where he earned his diploma in 2009. He said he benefited from individual attention for subjects he struggled with.

He works at a bookstore now and hopes to eventually earn a college degree in mechanical engineering.

“It may take a lot of work, but with the economy and circumstances today, it is pretty much mandatory that people need to get a high school diploma or GED,” said Michael Carter, Sinclair’s superintendent of School and Community Partnerships.

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