Full text







Parent Resource


Human Capital Policy Initiative



The Rules Have Changed: Play to Win—New Thinking on Career Success is presented by the Human Capital Policy Initiative, a project of the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics.

This booklet is a supplement to the Power Point presentation The Rules Have Changed: Play to Win— New Thinking on Career Success. To schedule a presentation for your group, please contact: University of Pittsburgh

Institute of Politics

Human Capital Policy Initiative Vanessa K. Lund, Project Director 710 Alumni Hall 4227 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260 412-624-7731 iuhuhuihoihio

Funding for this publication was made possible through the generous support of The Heinz Endowments and Carnegie Mellon Center for Economic Development.

This booklet is one in a series of three pieces. Ask your child if he/she has received a student version in school and if it has been discussed in class. There is a teachers’ edition, similar to the student one, designed to guide classroom discussion. You may want to review the questions in the student version with your child and/or discuss points in this booklet.

Give us your comments and suggestions about this booklet by sending an e-mail to

Writing and Design: Bridget O’Brien Decker © 2004 by the Institute of Politics


“It’s the end of the world as we know it.”



“[It is] just possible we have a surplus of graduates

and a scarcity of [youth] with real skills.”

4 University of Pittsburgh, Institute of Politics, Human Capital Policy Initiative

The rules have changed.

The job market today isn’t what it was when you were graduating from high school. Students have lots of options that can be overwhelming. Helping your child to understand those options and make good choices will get him/her on the track to career success.

While in the past, a high school graduate could have a high-paying job without special training or technical skills, today, skills are the new currency. As unskilled jobs disappear, specialized, transferable skills become more and more important for high-wage employment. The fastest growing high-skill/high-wage occupations are being filled with what are called “gold collar workers™.” These workers are

resourceful problem solvers with job-appropriate training. They are responsible for intermediate decision making and often work in a dynamic environment. To get gold collar jobs, students need additional education after high school, which has a whole new meaning today. This includes on-the-job training, career and technical school, and community college education, as well as four-year degrees and beyond.

The following graphs show the discrepancy between educational requirements for jobs and student plans for after graduation.

2006 Projected Education Requirements for Jobs

23%—Bachelor’s Degree and Higher

38%—Two-Year College


On-the-Job Training



Discussion Question

Ask your child what he/she wants to do after graduation. Discuss his/her top two career choices. What skills will he/she need to be successful?

Know the odds.

Many people believe that a four-year degree is the ticket for getting high-skill/high-wage jobs. Actually, a four-year college degree is only one option for gaining skills and moving into the workforce, and the risks are high, including a 50 percent drop-out rate and more graduates than commensurate jobs.

“For this generation, a university degree is just a ticket

to get in line, and the line is to an oversold event.”

—Kenneth Gray, Professor of Education, Pennsylvania State University

Despite the fact that a majority of jobs require on-the-job training or two years or less of education after high school, a majority of students report that they expect to pursue a four-year degree.

5 The Rules Have Changed: Play to Win—New Thinking on Career Success

Source: Other Ways to Win by K. Gray and E. Herr

Average College/University Graduation Rate (six years)


Employment Rate 43% 50%

0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

Source: Pennsylvania Deptment of Education 2001–02 Public Schools High School Graduates by County, School, Racial/Ethnic Category, Gender and Post-High School Activity Report

23%—Two-Year College 8%—Unknown 3%—Military 1%—Unemployed 9%—Employment 56%—Four-Year College



6 University of Pittsburgh, Institute of Politics, Human Capital Policy Initiative

Discussion Question

To determine some of your child’s interests, ask: “Which class do you enjoy the most?” Pay attention to what kinds of books or magazines catch his/her interest.

This is not to say that there is no value in a four-year degree. Depending upon your child’s career choice, a four-year degree may be required. It is important for your student to explore career options and under- stand the educational and training requirements.

Starting on one path toward education and a career does not exclude your child from changing and growing later in his/her career. In fact, most of us will have multiple careers during our working lives that will require us to get additional education that can come in many forms.

Play to win.

A student can choose from several types of education today, and each one can lead to gold collar jobs. Frequently overlooked educational options include:

• Technical and career education • Trade-specific training

• Military service

• Two- and four-year degree programs • Special certificate programs

Students can become gold collar workers with each of these types of education, and gold collar workers are found in all kinds of jobs and at all levels. Some examples of the variety of gold collar jobs are below.

High-Employment Occupations, Southwestern Pennsylvania

Included in the following chart are several growing job fields in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state that require different levels of education after high school. The occupations listed are a sample of careers that are considered “gold collar™.”

Gold Collar™ Occupation Average Annual Wage

Dental Assistant $23,280 Customer Service Representative $25,884 Desktop Publisher $26,590 Police Patrol Officer $52,649 EMT and Paramedics $24,079 Real Estate Agent $34,480

Paralegal $38,090 Electrical Technician $39,210 Dental Hygienist $42,220 Registered Nurse $43,847 On-the-Job Training Two-Year College Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/ 2003 Pennsylvania Career Guide



“A parent’s understanding is an incredible gift.”

Know your child and encourage self-exploration.

Parents have the most influence on their child’s career and education plans. Teachers, peers, and the media also affect students’ career decisions. As a parent, you have the power to help your child find his/her talents, interests, and abilities. Help your child match these characteristics with a satisfying career path. Begin by:

• Talking with your child about his or her interests.

• Identifying personality traits that can help your child find potential career fields.

• Helping your student get involved with volunteer, job shadowing, and part-time work opportunities in potential career fields. • Researching the educational requirements for careers that may be

a good fit for your child. Identify educational institutions that offer relevant certificate and degree programs.

Fact: According to a recent Junior Achievement study, 80 percent of high school students report that they expect to make $50,000 or more. The reality is that out of 1.1 million jobs in the region, only about 14 percent of all employees earn that much money or more. The largest percentage, 38 percent, earn between $15,000 and $25,000. The following chart shows the earnings breakdown in southwestern Pennsylvania.

7 The Rules Have Changed: Play to Win—New Thinking on Career Success

Discussion Question

Ask your child if there is a job or field he/she would like to “try out.” Help him or her find information on how to get a related part-time job, volunteer experience, or shadowing opportunity.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pittsburgh MSA 9%—$15,000 and under 38%—$15,000–$25,000 19%—$25,000–$35,000 20%—$35,000–$50,000 7%—$50,000–$75,000 7%—$75,000 and more


University of Pittsburgh, Institute of Politics, Human Capital Policy Initiative 8

Getting there.

Action Steps: Help your child use the following checklist* to learn about potential occupations and to develop a plan for after graduation.

7th and 8th Grades

Work hard to get the best grades possible. Identify what you like to do.

Participate in sports, art, music, dance, or other activity. Take foreign language and keyboarding classes.

Keep up to date by reading newspapers and magazines.

9th and 10th Grades

Determine your skills and interests.

Find out about occupations that interest you.

Identify skills you will need for different occupations.

Volunteer or shadow people in occupations that seem interesting. Select an appropriate class schedule.

11th Grade

Discuss your options with your parents. Begin narrowing your career options. Get a part-time job in a field of interest.

Keep a list of your experience, activities, and achievements.

12th Grade

Be sure your schedule meets graduation requirements. Continue volunteer or part-time work.

Develop a résumé from your list of experiences.

Explore educational opportunities and apply to programs. Decide on your plan of action for when you graduate.

*Adapted from Pennsylvania Career Guide 2002–03 from the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.

“Instead of thinking about where you are,

think about where you want to be.


9 The Rules Have Changed: Play to Win—New Thinking on Career Success

“Success is never a destination—it is a journey.”

Add it up.

Let’s Talk Cash: How Will Your Child Pay the Bills?

Guide your student through the following budget worksheet to help him/her estimate future expenses. What kind of salaries are paid for the careers your child expressed interest in? Discuss ways your child can save money, like sharing an apartment with a roommate or riding the bus instead of buying a car. Explain the importance of saving money to reach long-term goals and to be prepared for unexpected emergencies.

Budget Worksheet: My Expenses

Housing (rent or buy)



Cable television

Transportation (car, bus, bike)

For a car include: Monthly payment Insurance Maintenance Gas Parking Subtotal Food

Clothes and gifts

Life and health insurance


Savings and retirement

Miscellaneous (loans, haircuts, pets) Monthly total:


10 University of Pittsburgh, Institute of Politics, Human Capital Policy Initiative

Get real.

Bill Gates’ Top Ten

In a speech to high school students, Bill Gates, chair and founder of Microsoft Corp., recently offered a set of rules for the new economy. 1. Life is not fair—get used to it.

2. The world will not care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. 3. Most students will not make $50,000 a year or be a vice president

right out of high school. You will have to work for that.

4. If you think your teachers are tough, wait until you get a boss.

5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping—they called it opportunity. 6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your

mistakes—learn from them.

7. Some schools have done away with winners and losers. Real life has not! 8. Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and

very few employers are interested in helping you “find yourself.” Do that on your own time.

9. Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

10. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one!

Source: Career Planning Magazine


Check out the following Web sites for additional information.

Find out about jobs:

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry: Quintessential Careers:

Career Research & Planning, The Princeton Review: Plan a Career:


Career Resources, atwork@Harvard: Career Parent Magazine:

Career Voyages:

Find out about schools and financial resources:

Pennsylvania Department of Education:

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency: Mapping Your Future:

University of Waterloo Career Development eManual:

Find out about supply and demand:

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Please also visit the Human Capital Policy Initiative site:


“It’s the end of the world as we know it,

and I feel fine.”


The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution. Published in cooperation with the Department of University Marketing Communications. UMC5287–0705

Institute of Politics 710 Alumni Hall 4227 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260