Advertisement

Teens might not realize importance of hard work

December 13, 2004|by ROSE RENNEKAMP

When we were kids, very few of us probably realized how hard our parents worked to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. I know that I gained a lot of respect for my parents' and grandparents' hard work once I spent some time in the "real world."

In our culture, some teens who are raised watching MTV and their favorite NBA stars might get the impression that easy riches lie ahead of them. In truth, most musicians and athletes aren't professionally successful, and end up pursuing other careers. In either case, a high level of skill is needed to succeed as a celebrity or in the business world.

The challenge for parents is to convince our teenagers that, if they want to become successful and earn big paychecks, they'll need to study hard in school and graduate with high academic skills.

A recent study by ACT researchers confirms that higher-paying jobs require workers to have a higher level of skills. Researchers compared starting pay for various jobs with the skill levels required to perform them, as demonstrated through WorkKeys skills tests. They discovered that starting pay for entry-level jobs could differ by as much as $14,000 a year for workers from the lowest to the highest skill levels. That's a big difference when you're trying to meet your monthly bills.

Advertisement

How can we get our teenagers to understand this? To find out what kind of skills they'll need to make it in a specific job, have your teen talk to someone in the field. Have them ask what it took to get the job and what kinds of skills they would need every day. Students also can check out the skill levels they'll need for specific jobs by going to the WorkKeys Web site at www.act.org/workkeys/profiles/ occuprof/wwmprof.

Many teenagers also don't understand how much money it takes to live the way they want. After all, cell phones and iPods cost money. Few teenagers have had to pay the electricity bill, phone bill and rent. It isn't realistic to turn the family budget over to a teenager for a month, but you could sit down with them and talk about the taxes and expenses they'd have if they earned $25,000 or $30,000 dollars a year. What they would have left over each month for entertainment might be surprising to them.

Another way to drive this reality home is a cost of life calculator, available at the Employment Policy Foundation's Web site, teen.educationpays.org. There, teens can enter the kind of home they want, the kind of car they expect to drive, even whether or not they plan to have a cell phone. The Web site then will give them an estimate of how much money they'd need to earn in order to enjoy all of the luxuries they choose.




Rose Rennekamp is the vice president of communications for ACT. Have a question you want answered in a future column? Send an e-mail to AskRose@act.org.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|