So I've been thinking of making a flow chart of the choices that are presented upon graduating from high school, if you are in my generation.
You got 3 options, not including drugs, the first is going to college and graduating. The second is trying your hand at a lowly retail or supermarket job. The third is military.
Those who fall into the second option don't last long until they wind up in the military. Since those jobs feel like a dead end, the military seems like the better option (I don't think it is for many reasons).
Those that drop out of the first option, end up in the second and will try to work their way up the "corporate ladder" wherever they are or get "lucky" enough to work in an office.
Those that graduate from the first option may end up in the second one, but more likely end up in an office job that feels like a dead end.
Those from the third option finish their service and enter into civilian work, more likely either manual labor or office "work".
I point this out because the guys that graduated out of highschool followed one of these "paths". Those that do not have the cognitive capacity for higher education, who end up working for mininum wage seem to usually end up in the military. Those without any real aspirations, goals, or talents find themselves there as well.
That is not to knock the fine people in the military nor is it to insult anyone that has been in the military. You have my thanks for serving this country.
I just wish there was a 4th option that doesn't involve being burnt out on drugs or alcohol or both.
Its hard to break the mold, near all of us won't.
Option 1.5 - trade school. Some go right into a union and take classes there. Others can get a foot in the door through contacts. My brother went to school, skipped the gen-eds, went through all the diesel classes and then took the internship class. At the end of the internship he dropped out of college and stayed on as a full time employee. They are trying to make it harder to do that because they want to milk more money out of you in school rather than kids just using it as a stepping stone into a career...that's not what school is about.
Hawkeye brings up option 2.5 - local industry. My other brother and good friend both went into nuclear security. They have taken various amounts of classes but never graduated. They make some good money doing this. Likewise, if you work in an area that still has a factory (I have been to at least two) there is that option. If you want to make good money you need to have a skill, not just be a floor sweep. Then again, one of the factory reps I know started out 30 years ago sweeping floors and now is the brand manager for North America. This is a big company, btw. He got his son a foot in the door working part time in technical service. My uncle pounded nails for a construction company and is now a project manager answering to the company president.
One thing people need to get through their heads is that in this brave new world your "merits" mean absolutely nothing. As a side note, our colleges really don't prepare you for work. If you went five years and got substandard grades in some dumbed down "studies" course, you cannot expect to get right into an industry. You need to start networking as soon as possible. Not you FB frienemies, but actual people in school and in your crap jobs who seem like they are going to succeed. Most of the people I know who have good jobs have someone who helped them get in.
This is not to say that we don't have systemic problems in this country, but problems become systemic for a reason. The body of state does not have the sniffles, it's got the HIV. This is why we need to look at bettering ourselves first and succeeding. One thing Gary Johnson said during the 2011 election season when all the digbats the GOPniks put forward were talking about job creation, he said that he had created 200 jobs, starting with himself. (He was a handyman and that grew into a full company.) That is something people don't think about when they get a dream of starting their own cupcake factory. You don't just build a company. You have to provide a service. You yourself have to give people something. Then, if there is more demand than you can provide by yourself you start adding employees and go from there.