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Study Says Non-College-Bound Youth Losing Economic Ground

November 17, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The economic gap between young people who attend college and those who don’t has widened in recent years, leaving many to begin adulthood with rising odds against financial success, according to a report released today.

The study by the private Commission on Youth and America’s Future refers to the nation’s 20 million non-college-bound youth as the ″forgotten half″ of their generation. It says many never will overcome unemployment, part-time jobs with few benefits and poverty-level wages.

″Opportunities for today’s young workers who begin their careers with only a high school diploma or less are far more constrained than were their peers of 15 years ago,″ said the commission’s two-year study of 16- to 24-year- olds.

For those without a college education, there are fewer ″jobs with a future,″ real earnings are declining faster, unemployment is more likely, and marriage is often postponed because of financial pressures, said the 208-page report from the commission established by the William T. Grant Foundation.

″Since 1973, wrenching job market changes have put the squeeze on young workers,″ said former U.S. commissioner of education Harold Howe II, who headed the 19-member commission. ″Those from minority groups have sunk the fastest, but compared to other groups in American society, all members of the forgotten half have lost ground.″

The commission members faulted educators for being preoccupied with those bound for college.

″More and more of the non-college-bound now fall between the cracks when they are in school, drop out, or graduate inadequately prepared for the requirements of the society and the workplace,″ it said.

The report also found that financial support for those attending college far outweighs what is available to those who don’t continue their education.

College students typically can expect public-private subsidies of $5,000 per school year through scholarships, grants and loans, while only about 5 percent of eligible non-college-bound youth receive federal job training assistance totaling $1,800-$2,300 over about four months.

The commission included people from business, labor, government, education and health and human services. Its report made four recommendations to help non-college young adults succeed and contribute to society:

-Creation of a five-year, $1.25 billion federally financed, state-run national demonstration project to improve access to training through financial aid, counseling and academic support. Also, increased federal financing for programs to help young children excel.

-More community programs emphasizing service and leadership to help young people get involved in civic activities, thereby building self-respect and keeping them away from drugs and other trouble.

-Expanded education, training and employment programs by businesses and local governments that are targeted to young people.

-Programs to strengthen adult-youth relationships in families, including policies at school and businesses that take into account the demands placed on working parents.

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