The Ferris State University Partnership for Career Decision-making a program aimed at helping children discover their career paths recently conducted a study that found most teenagers in Michigan are not getting the help they need in discovering what career fields interest them most.

“Students and parents agree not much career counseling is going on in the schools,” said Ferris State spokesman Jim Thorp.

In fact, Thorp said, more than 50 percent of parents agree that schools are not helping with their children”s career decisions and 45 percent of Michigan students also share this view.

The Partnership program”s survey uncovered many views Michigan parents and children have. One common sentiment is parents feeling that four-year colleges are better for their children than vocational schools. Eighty percent of parents and 76 percent of teens in the study said they feel this way.

“There”s a mindset that (the children) should go to a traditional four-year college,” said Ferris State President William Sederburg. “But over half the people that go don”t succeed. A big stigma is attached to technical education. Most parents find it second class to a liberal arts education.”

As a result of this bias, only six percent of Michigan teens surveyed said that said they feel that computers are a viable career option, though they dislike the idea of going to vocational school.

“At Ferris, we have lots of technical programs,” Thorp said. “Automotive, computers and manufacturing, but not many young people are interested in these types of jobs, although they”re very high-tech.”

Sixteen percent of children want to go into education, twelve percent into medical careers and seven percent in engineering and law, respectively.

The program also aims to improve the relationship between the business and industry and educators. The program also wants the career fields the teens are interested in to provide hands-on experience including internships, working in the field directly and guidance in making the decision on whether or not they would like to pursue a specific career. The Partnership also seeks to make children aware of the technical field as a prospect career choice.

“We want to get employers involved directly with the students and educators,” Thorp said.

“There is really no strong system there to help children with their career choices,” Sederburg said. “Counselors and teachers aren”t really involved. With our program, we want the state more involved in developing programs to target the problem.”

The Partnership involves a handful of state organizations and schools, including Lansing Community College, the Michigan Health Council and William Beaumont Hospital.

“Nobody ever really did a project like this,” Sederburg said. “We give children the abilities to help them find their calling in life. It”s kind of exciting.”

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