The better the question
Can access to education really solve the youth employment crisis?
The future of work poses challenges that maybe access alone can’t fix.
One of the most pressing challenges facing society today is youth unemployment. In the US alone, nearly six million young people, aged 16 to 24, are disconnected from both work and school, the economic cost of which has been estimated as equivalent to a permanent national recession.
As things stand, those costs seem unlikely to diminish. While research out of Georgetown University indicates that 35% of job openings will soon require at least a bachelor’s degree, more than 400,000 US high school students each year — many from underserved communities — don’t continue to college.
Keeping pace with today’s Transformative Age, and preserving and growing the diversity of our future workforce, demands bridging this gap. Doing so successfully undoubtedly involves raising underserved students’ aspirations to attend college, but is improving equity of access enough on its own to achieve this goal?
The better the answer
Mentoring for Access and Persistence (MAP)
At EY, we believe the answer is no. Raising students’ awareness of different college opportunities, illuminating the lifelong benefits of higher education and demystifying the process of applying for financial aid and paying for college are all important parts of the equation — but they are only the beginning.
For underserved youth especially — many of whom may be the first member of their families to attend college — developing the mindsets, skills and confidence they’ll need to succeed when they get there is an even greater challenge. Helping students develop qualities such as initiative and self-reliance, flexibility and adaptability, critical thinking and creative problem-solving will help them succeed in higher education, and these can all be nurtured through mentoring.
It’s why EY College MAP — operating across 37 cities in the US — focuses on mentoring for both access and persistence. The program not only inspires and supports young people from underserved communities to attend college, but also provides personal support and coaching on the life skills that will help students remain in college, complete their degrees and transition successfully into the working world beyond.
Together, during interactive monthly workshops, groups of local high school students explore all these topics with groups of EY mentors, drawn from all ranks and service lines. This group mentoring model offers some distinct advantages over more commonplace one-to-one approaches. Multiple mentors can bring a wider variety of perspectives and insights to guide students, and the students themselves are encouraged to become their own supportive academic community.
The impact of College MAP99%
of College MAP students graduate high school and 90% enroll in college vs. an average among low-income students of 72% and 42% respectively.
The better the world works
Helping young people achieve their potential
College MAP benefits the students we serve, our communities and our people.
The statistics speak for themselves. Ninety-nine percent of College MAP students graduate high school and 90% of them enroll in college vs. an average among underserved students in the US of 72% and 42% respectively — significant numbers when you consider that 65% of jobs in the US require a college education.
For students like Koya, the impact can be transformational. “I wasn’t confident about going to college. I wasn’t confident about my grades. Having mentors there to encourage me helped me tremendously,” she says. “I’ve learned that if you work hard and you believe in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. I’m going to be the first person in my family to go to college.”
Of course, it’s not only students who benefit from the experience. As well as being more likely to succeed in school, young people with mentors are also more likely to become leaders and role models in their communities — independent, resilient and enterprising young adults who inspire others to follow their example.
Surveys also show that EY professionals who channel their skills, knowledge and experience toward strengthening our communities receive significantly better performance ratings, stay with the organization longer and have better relationships with their colleagues. And those who get involved with immersive mentoring experiences, such as College MAP, report best-in-class engagement, which ultimately impacts our business and bottom line.
“Looking back now, I can really see that participating in College MAP has made a big impact on my professional life,” says EY mentor Pamela K. Mizuno. “My public speaking and leadership skills have grown, and it’s also really expanded my personal network. Most importantly, it’s kept me happy and engaged, with a stronger sense of connection to our purpose of building a better working world.”
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