Training Strategies:

Preparing Noncollege Youth for Employment in the U.S. and Foreign Countries

HRD-90-88: Published: May 11, 1990. Publicly Released: May 11, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the weaknesses in the U.S. education and training system for preparing noncollege youth for employment; and (2) foreign strategies that appear relevant to U.S. shortcomings.

GAO found that: (1) about half of all U.S. youth attended college by the age 25, but only one-fifth of them graduated; (2) most U.S. youth completed high school, but one-fourth of the nation's 33 million youth did not attain high school competency because they either dropped out of high school or graduated without mastering basic academic skills; (3) foreign countries tended to invest proportionately more in noncollege education and training; (4) despite heavy investments in college education, the United States placed little emphasis on training youth who chose employment rather than college; (5) less than half as much was invested in education and training for each noncollege youth as for each college youth; (6) young adults in the foreign countries had higher literacy levels than those in the United States; (7) many U.S. children entered school unprepared and were not adequately helped after falling behind; and (8) certain practices of foreign countries, such as providing comparable educational resources to all schools, emphasized providing equal educational opportunity to all youth, regardless of socioeconomic status and academic talent. GAO also found: (1) foreign countries helped students learn about job requirements and assisted them in finding employment; (2) Germany and the United Kingdom maintained quality occupational training by testing and certification to meet national standards, which employers looked to for evidence of skills; (3) U.S. certificates for trainees often certified course completion and not necessarily attainment of specific skill levels; and (4) foreign countries assisted most youth who encountered employment problems.

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