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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Unfortunately, not all high school students are set up for success. Many students who struggle at school come from challenging circumstances at home, and others are facing hardships such as the death of a parent, homelessness or addiction that threaten their ability to finish high school. The national high school dropout rate, while improving, is still a crisis - according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 7,000 students drop out every day1. High school staff and administrators need to support students who are facing such hardships and enable them to succeed in high school and move into post-secondary education.
With the rise of the sharing and "gig" economy, along with smartphone penetration, blended learning and rapid app development changing the way we hire, myriad factors are converging together to set the stage for new company recruiting and hiring systems for entry-level employment.
The largest and longest-running investor conference devoted exclusively to the education sector was held on September 10th in NYC. The 15th annual Back to School Conference was held by BMO Capital Markets, a leading, full-service North American-based financial services provider. The conference showcased leading companies in the for-profit education industry, with the purpose of identifying trends in higher education.
Our current education system speaks to traditional in-class learning. But there are truly many ways to learn. From corporations onboarding new employees with online training, to YouTube how-to videos, to motivated learners taking at-home courses in their spare time, forms of education take on many shapes, and online learning has offered new spaces for students to learn. The area of online education continues to grow and mature, but unfortunately, it still has some antiquated legislation to overcome before alternative education can be a viable and accessible solution for students across our nation's school districts.
Penn Foster has a very unique position within the Education sector as we straddle the intersection between traditional online degree-granting programs and career-focused training for the middle-skilled worker. Lately, we've been hearing lots of buzz about "demand-driven workforce development' across multiple sectors: non-governmental organizations, youth organizations, and corporate social responsibility initiatives within the private sector. Given that we are currently living through a major transformative era in the way the world learns - education's "Internet moment' so to speak - we are curious to know what the implications will be for demand-driven workforce development initiatives.
There are 4.8 million undergraduate students currently enrolled in the U.S. who are also parents, representing 26 percent of all undergraduates, according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.1 In serving this growing student group, career colleges - known to offer increased schedule flexibility - have an advantage over traditional higher education institutions. Though student parents tend to have a greater appreciation for the opportunities that higher education provides, balancing parenting responsibilities often proves too stressful to make going back to school a viable option.
Talent shortage is the biggest hiring challenge today. In a recent Harris Poll of 515 U.S. human resources and business managers conducted for Glassdoor, 48 percent of respondents said they are unable to  find enough qualified candidates to fill open positions, and 26 percent of respondents anticipate this to become a larger problem in the coming months.1 In the face of this challenge, many employers are devoting even more resources to talent searches, assuming that finding the perfect candidate will deliver better ROI than developing existing the skills of existing employees.
Last week, GradNation of America's Promise Alliance released a new report titled Don't Quit on Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships. As a follow up report to last year's Don't Call Them Dropouts, this new study focuses on the importance of the strength, number, and nurture of relationships students have throughout high school, and how it affects their choice to stay in school. Gathered from the perspectives of young people themselves, the report found that relationships are cornerstone to a student's success in high school, and that it is pivotal that individuals, schools, and communities focus on connecting students with mentors who can provide students with a web of support and resources they need to succeed.
The state of Indiana is moving forward with a big proposal for its high schools. Stakeholders across the state have come together to propose meaningful changes in order to invest in its students and future generation of workforce talent.
Many nonprofits and youth organizations help students who are at risk of not being able to continue their education because of financial hardship or other circumstances, such as a lack of child care or mentoring support. While these organizations are motivated by diverse causes, they share a common goal: to help students complete their education. With this shared vision, these nonprofits work together and with other partners to promote student success.

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