The Real World for Teens: How Ready Are They?

group of teens

The real world is a mystery to most teens. But they’re excited to experience it all the same. Students are eager to grow up, associating adulthood and the real world with freedom. In their young minds, working and earning money mean success. While they’re not wrong, they don’t realize yet that being a grown-up isn’t as easy as it seems.

And now that the real world is closing in on them fast — thanks to the senior high school program — teens have to mature sooner than teens pre-K-12 period. Millennials and all the generations before them waited until graduating from college before getting a job. Now, jobs for senior high school graduates are available, making college just optional.

But are teens prepared for the real world? How can their education and parents help them?

School vs. The Real World

Even college graduates feel overwhelmed in the real world. How much more will teens fresh out of high school feel? However, we don’t consider that teens aren’t necessarily living in a bubble or an illusion of the real world. School is also a part of the real world. The challenges they face, such as finishing projects, passing their exams, and striving to graduate, are similar to the hardships they may face in adulthood.

There is no other way to prepare for the real world than to enter it. But it’s true that education and skills matter. Hence, teens must study in a school that equips them with the skills needed for the job they want. If their school can simulate the working environment, the more prepared a teen will be for the actual job.

But of course, school life will always be easier. Students have an end goal, which is to graduate. But in the real world, goals should be continuous. Adults achieve one goal after another, and setbacks occur frequently.

In school, the typical setback is failing a grade. If that happens, a student can repeat the subject and pass it. They can still graduate with flying colors. But in the real world, failures can cost them their job, money, and other important things.

However, it’s not fair to say that school is a bubble just because it’s easier. By saying so, we’re not factoring in the teen’s experiences outside of school. Some teens work part-time to help support their families. Some teens have a dysfunctional families. Their personal struggles also define their skills and potentials. For example, a teen who worked in construction could have a higher potential for being a general contractor than an inexperienced engineering graduate.

Hence, employers shouldn’t assume that teens are too unskilled to work. If their education and life experiences gave them the right skills, their age shouldn’t matter in their jobs.

high school student

The Corporate World vs. Teens

Senior high school (SHS) graduates are job-ready. That’s what the Department of Education (DepEd) ensured when they implemented the K-12 program. According to the agency, DepEd’s strong partnership with different industries would enable SHS graduates to balance theory and practice. But is the corporate world allowing the graduates to achieve this?

Sadly, many SHS graduates find it challenging to land a job. That’s because some companies perceive their technical and vocational skills to be insufficient. Since Philippine companies are accustomed to hiring college graduates or vocational graduates, they automatically reject SHS graduates. Instead of changing their qualifications and adapting to the times, they choose to be set in their ways.

In this scenario, it’s clearly not the schools and the DepEd that lacked in preparation. It’s the Philippine economy itself. The level of preparedness of our economy to accommodate work is still too low. But SHS graduates are far from hopeless. Their education also made them more resourceful. If they can’t find a job, they can start their own business. If they have a family business, they work for it and gain managerial experience.

When the Philippine economy improves and companies open their doors to SHS graduates, the corporate world will be a lot more supportive of working teens.

What Makes an SHS Graduate Stand Out

An SHS graduate’s achievements shouldn’t be undermined. Their age and lack of degree don’t define their competence and potentials. If their teachers and parents taught them the value of hard work and quality work, they’d always deliver results that exceed expectations. They’d learn to put work before play, a habit that even adults struggle with.

SHS graduates are molded to be competent employees and leaders. Their curriculum is specifically designed to prepare them for work. Hence, they’re not unprepared for the real world; it’s the real world that’s unprepared for them.

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