Employers Go to Schools to Keep Young

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A NATIONAL SURVEY developed by Penn’s Institute for Research on Higher Education has found that companies that are involved with local high schools have significantly higher retention rates among young workers than employers who don’t.
   The project was led by Dr. Robert Zemsky, professor of education and director of the institute; by Dr. Susan H. Fuhrman, the George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education who serves as dean of the Graduate School of Education; and Dr. Peter Cappelli, professor and chair of management and director of the Center for Human Resources. The survey of more than 5,400 employers, which formed the second part of a national employer survey, was administered by the United States Census Bureau.
   The survey confirms that “working with schools makes good business sense,” according to Zemsky. “It tells us there is a connection between school and work where employers take their young workers more seriously and workers take their employers seriously.” The workers in question are between the ages of 18 and 25.
   According to Cappelli, the tight labor market “is driving firms to pay more attention to recruiting. They are cozying up to schools to get a leg up in recruiting.”
   The authors found, among other things, that about one out of every four employers reported participating in formal work-to-school partnerships, while one out of three engaged in some form of work-based learning, such as mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, and “cooperative education,” which includes companies having input into designing the curriculum.
   “Maybe involvement in the schools allows employers to hire more wisely,” says Fuhrman. “Maybe it leads to a workplace that is more enriching. We don’t know. What we do know from this is that familiarity between the two breeds content, that employer interaction with schools is beneficial.”

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