careers require some post-high school training and education; students and parents need to be educated consumers. While there is a lot of criticism about graduation rates and unsavory recruitment practices at for-profit colleges, there is plenty of criticism to go around for public colleges' performance.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) just released its "Leaders and Laggards" State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education. Be sure to click on your state's individual report card and overall recommendations.
You can see a summary of findings on the Career Tech Blog - these are the three that stuck out the most to me:
"Four-Year Completion Rates
In most states, only half of students at four-year public colleges complete a degree, in 17 states, less than half of all first-time bachelors-seeking students complete a degree within six years";
"Two-Year Completion Rates
...more than half of states have a two-year completion rate at or below 25 percent"..: and
"Linking Postsecondary Data to Labor Market
Only 22 states have systems in place to track the success of graduates once they enter the labor force and to make those data public..."
While others focus on big-picture, long-term, bureaucratic change (good luck!), I'm more focused on how we can help individual students, parents, and counselors improve their chances of success now. The best practical takeaway from this report is for students and parents to learn their state's strengths and weaknesses in providing education. If nothing else, you'll know what to look for and avoid, and what to expect as far as your state's performance. And when you go through the process of choosing a school or program, you'll know to ask for more information about graduation rates and support for students looking for a job post-graduation.
I don't know that I've given up on government for problem-solving (or trust the for-profit sector to do it either) - but it's clear to me that if you are or have a child in secondary school or college right now, it's up to you to help yourself choose a career or college major you won't regret. Gathering the best quality information you can is part of making good decisions.