When a student is about to graduate from high school, they are about to step out into a world with many opportunities to make a successful career. But in most cases, students of the African American community are not able to get access to these opportunities. Many places of employment employ racial biases that prevent qualified applicants from getting jobs based mainly on the color of their skin. But there is more to it than that.
When PCI met with representatives from high schools in the Fox Valley, we discovered that most African-American students do not seek out the counseling and job training resources offered by their schools. Even stranger is that many African American students do not tend to express interest in a career that they’d like to pursue, such as firefighter or doctor, in large part due to a stigma they’ve experienced with their peers and families.
While initiatives continue to monitor and reduce racial biases in the workplace, PCI realizes that the leading way to get students to pursue successful careers is to make them excited for them. The drive to make students enthusiastic about finding a job was part of why PCI initiated our Academic Career Empowerment (ACE) program to give students a hands-on taste of the many career opportunities available. But ACE is one of many ways we can get students to follow their passions and ensure a successful career.
It’s one thing for students to learn about the available jobs, but it wouldn’t matter if the societal mindset tells them they can’t get these jobs. Initiatives from schooling, home, and job employment places need to instill confidence in these individuals and not block their desires behind stigmas, judgments, or stereotypes. It’s not easy to quash, but it starts with a simple conversation with a counselor or parent.