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Youth Solutions is reporting out on our survey data in the area of barriers to education.

As an organization, Youth Solutions is committed to continuous learning and improvement. As leaders in the education and workforce development space, we recently fielded a survey among our stakeholders to gain an understanding of the biggest challenges faced in education today. Thank you to all who participated!

What do you believe is the single biggest challenge in education today?” Student attendance and accountability for work and behavior. Student mental health. Administration and the lack of policies. Equity in resources. Professional respect. Resistant learners. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers. Parental involvement. Getting kids engaged. These are just a small number of the answers to the question we asked of our Youth Solution’s followers and contacts.

Thirty-three participants answered our call. When they were asked to choose the top 5 issues impacting education that need to be addressed, the top priority listed was Student Mental Health (45.5%). Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Career Preparedness and Teacher Salaries all tied for second, each receiving 39.4% of the votes. Coming in third were Student Disengagement and Teacher Working Conditions with 33.3% of the vote.

“Teachers are facing an uphill battle lately when it comes to striving to adequately teach the necessary concepts to a group of diverse learners while also maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere amongst challenging behaviors. There is not enough support or preparedness supplied to the classroom teacher by the school or school funding to properly train the teacher to handle certain behaviors or learning deficits or provide them with the personnel to aid with these behaviors/deficits” said educator, Megan Spaude.

Educator Samantha Young mentioned that “Student academics is often focused on test preparation for the assessments today’s students are required to take to show growth, proficiency, or readiness for grade level promotion. The focus on common core standards and scores on standardized tests has taken away creativity in the classrooms for teachers and students alike. It has also added heightened academic anxiety in the classroom.”

“The biggest challenge in education is probably the lack of life lessons within the classroom. Students should learn more about how to thrive in the real world besides just how to conform to a 9-5 lifestyle,” responded student Sarah Jones-Moody, JMG alumna and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member, from Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC).

The largest number of responses came from Teachers/Professors/Educators followed by Parents/Guardians but several youth/students wanted to make sure their voices were heard in our research. Youth Solutions is always looking for opportunities to raise the voices of young people throughout Michigan.

However large the barriers, we know one thing for sure: Educating our youth is our passport to the future. We must find a way to overcome the challenges and create a connection between education and workforce development opportunities. We need to ensure that our young people are gaining the knowledge and experiences that are essential to future success. Youth Solutions is committed to supporting learning, promoting discussions and developing actions that positively impact youth education and affect workforce development.

With respect to the challenges cited by our survey respondents, our team may not be able to affect change with regards to teacher’s salaries and teacher’s working conditions, but we are already very focused on student mental health, social emotional learning (SEL), career preparedness and student engagement.

Throughout 2023, you’ll see our team speaking at conferences, sharing our knowledge and listening to our various audiences in an effort to improve outcomes for Michigan’s youth. We also host events that allow participating youth to gain career experiences and meet people who can prove to be positive influences throughout their lives. Our team’s involvement not only promotes awareness of these challenges through our Coffee With A Purpose panel discussions, but we also offer training, ongoing development and continuing education in the following areas:

  • Student Mental Health / Social Emotional Learning: Our Specialists receive instruction in the areas of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Trauma Informed Care so they can skillfully identify and remove barriers experienced by our youth participants. We also have a social worker on staff who can help to address challenges that go beyond the classroom training.

  • Career Preparedness: Our JMG curriculum is squarely focused in the area of career preparedness, providing youth with the skills they need to find, acquire, maintain and grow within a job. Program participants learn essential human skills that are desirable in the workplace today like communication, collaboration, critical thinking and emotional intelligence.

  • Student Disengagement: Youth engagement is the foundation of our program. We meet youth where they are at physically and emotionally. Not only do we develop and encourage Project Based Learning (PBL) in our instruction, which encourages hands-on, real-life learning and application, we continue to support our youth through programming that spans 12 months post-graduation.

Youth Solutions is committed to inspiring and connecting youth to a future beyond imagination. You can count on us to continue to learn, grow and influence opportunities presented at the intersection of education and workforce development.

Follow Youth Solutions as we continue to bring education and workforce development together to better support young people as they overcome barriers and plan for their futures. Contact us to participate in the discussion. Better yet, get involved by volunteering at one of our events, sign up as a business partner or donate so we can continue to inspire and connect youth to achieve a future beyond imagination.

What lessons do you wish you would have learned in school or earlier in life that would have better prepared you for success in your career? Share your comments on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.


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