Teens who forgo a summer job miss out on a uniquely formative experience, one in which young people learn important lessons about the working world.
The decline in work may be yet another way in which advantaged students get a leg up on their disadvantaged peers. Teens of color and those from low-income families stand to benefit most from early work experience, some researchers say, yet they’re the least likely to land a summer job. Researchers, policymakers, and educators are calling for high schools to play a more active role in connecting students to work.
Since joining JFF's Pathways to Prosperity Network, Delaware has spent the past six years working to build pathways between its education and workforce systems. Through a partnership between various state agencies, the governor’s office, and the higher-education system, the state has dramatically expanded opportunities for high-school students to gain hands-on work experience. In some cases, students also earn industry credentials and college credits.