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September 2020 was National Workforce Development Month  (PDF) recognizing the dignity of each and every worker and encouraging employers to offer new opportunities for growth and training as an investment in the long-term well-being and economic mobility of American workers.

HHS/ACYF/FYSB programming also shares these principles by encouraging at-risk youth to be persistent in investing in their own future. ACYF’s Sexual Risk Avoidance Education programming on “success sequencing” educates youth about the benefits of planning to take these steps in this order:

  1. Get a high school diploma;
  2. Get a full-time job;
  3. Get married before having children.

A researcher who coined the “success sequence” explained it this way : “Education means higher earnings. Work brings in income. Two earners in a family is better than one.” Another researcher pointed  (PDF) out that following the steps –diploma, employment, marriage, and children — improves success in the circumstances one earner may need to provide financial support for the family as a whole.

Evidence shows the experience of full-time work in your 20s puts a young person on a path that is more likely to take a person out of poverty and prevent falling into poverty later in life. Research showed that 97 percent of millennials who followed the success sequence  are not poor. One researcher estimated that full-time work  (PDF) would reduce the poverty rate by 40 percent.

A full-time job is not just about what’s currently in your wallet. The financial security of a regular paycheck and stability opens up opportunities and resources. A full-time job usually comes with annual and sick leave. Certain jobs come with other benefits: health, life, and disability insurance for oneself and family. Stability in turn affords the opportunity for young people to plan ahead, save, prepare for marriage and family, and have the resources they need to succeed.

The federal government predicted more than 7 million openings for high school graduates would be available, on average, from 2016 to 2026. Despite the current challenges of a global pandemic, new jobs are being added the economy. Education about the success sequence is a message to youth that they should start now thinking and planning for their future. And we at ACYF want their futures to be as bright and healthy as they can be.

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