NEW ORLEANS WILL Educate its Youth About Viable Career Options

With the announcement last week that Louisiana public schools improved on school report cards according to the State Department of Education, we’ve got education on our minds.


Long before they take their SATs, children can learn about career options. (Photo courtesy Cocoen on Flickr)

Education is a crucial component for kids to succeed, not only in school, but also after graduation. Showing children the connection between education and a successful future may be the key for getting kids excited about what’s next.

Some educators and researchers recommend having discussions with kids from the moment they start high school; others suggest you can sit down with children during elementary school to help them think about what they like to do and connect school lessons to real-life situations.

In a city like New Orleans, job opportunities are everywhere for children considering a career. Tourism, our largest industry, presents a range of job opportunities for kids to be excited about. Consider your child’s skills, and help him or her connect those positive attributes to real jobs. For example, is your child very talkative and social? A job like a hotel manager requires highly developed social skills.

You can also connect specific skills to jobs, illustrating to your child the importance of education: A head chef at a restaurant uses math to know how many ingredients to order on any given day. A museum curator uses history to develop a deep knowledge about arts and culture.

Starting the conversation with your children is the first step. Remember to think about all future options, too. In a 2011 report from Harvard University titled “Pathways to Prosperity,” researchers found that a four-year degree isn’t always the best option and that the overarching goal that all students must attend college may actually prevent students from transitioning from adolescence and early adulthood into a successful career.

Vocational options are a reality of many developed nations around the world, including Switzerland, Germany, and Finland. The United States – including New Orleans – is embracing the workforce development trend, empowering students with the option to attain a well-paying job without a traditional four-year degree. No matter what our children decide as they become adults, if they stay in New Orleans, they can give back to their community and also gain a sense of professional success with the multitude of jobs available.