More high school graduate just saying no to higher education

by: Regina Mobley

Posted: May 31, 2023 / 07:25 PM EDT

Updated: Jun 1, 2023 / 02:08 AM EDT

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – More high school graduates are saying no to higher education and yes to the workforce.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2009 college enrollment for high school graduates was over 70%; it fell to just over 66% in 2019, and last year only 62% of high school graduates enrolled at the nation’s colleges and universities.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has scrapped the degree demand and the state will instead look at the total package an applicant offers when applying for certain jobs. In a news release, the governor said the policy change will affect 90% of state classified positions.

“This landmark change in hiring practices for our state workforce will improve hiring processes, expand possibilities and career paths for job seekers and enhance our ability to deliver quality services,” Youngkin said. “Last month, Virginia achieved the highest labor force participation rate in nearly ten years demonstrating the Commonwealth’s sustained workforce developments.” 

The new policy gets an A-plus from the Hampton Roads Workforce Council. Christina Brooks is the council’s senior director for Nextgen and Special Projects.

“It opens up a very strong pathway for individuals to go straight into employment without having to go to post-secondary training in advance,” Brooks said.

The Council said there’s truly something in the water for those looking for a job and a thriving career.

“The skilled trades, of course, have phenomenal opportunities and hundreds of different specialties where you can begin working directly with a company and upscale as you go,” Brooks said. “There are even entry-level positions in things like the environmental sciences that we don’t think about. You can go straight to work and work on water reclamation and grow your skill set as you are there.”

This summer, the council will roll out the Hampton Roads Regional Workforce Training System. It’s an all-hands effort to align regional workforce solutions, attract new talent to industries, train and develop diverse talent and fill open positions.

“We’re able to connect individuals right out of high school or any point within that 18-plus … with training opportunities,” Brooks said. “There’s funding available for the cost of that tuition we can also connect them directly with employers for opportunities so that we can stack those credentials as we grow your career.”

No legal identification papers? No problem.

The council will help applicants get the credentials needed to qualify for a job in maritime, medicine, cyber security and more. For more information call or text the council at 757-373-8732.