Scott: Not too long ago, these young people and their families could never imagine attending a ceremony with caps and gowns. Fifty high school dropouts getting their diplomas.
The future is looking a lot brighter for 19-year-old Nick Andino.
Nick Andino: I thought if I didn’t finish school, then the closest job I can get is pumping gas or flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
Scott: Experts say he is not wrong.
Doug Stites: The companies are creating no jobs for them. Zero.
Scott: Doug Stites has been a job recruitment professional for 30 years. He says things have changed. Nowadays, unskilled plus unschooled equals unemployed.
Doug: How are they ever going to get a chance? They’re never going to own a house. They’re never going to buy a Harley. They’re never going to buy a new car. They’re cut off from the economic middle class for the rest of their life.
Scott: There are 31 million high school dropouts in the U.S., and more than half are unemployed. And most of those under 30 who do have jobs are working part-time, earning an average of $9,400 a year. That is nearly $2,000 below the nation’s poverty level. But this class is beating the odds. They ended up at Newbridge, a nonprofit community organization that helps dropouts earn a high school diploma and then places them in schools and jobs.
Robert Parker: These young adults are the ones that we’ve pushed aside.
Scott: Robert Parker is in charge of Newbridge.
Parker: But that’s very shortsighted. They’re going to collect food stamps. And they’re not going to be tax payers. In a sense, we’re investing in these people in order for them to pay back.
“And then we’ll move up the top.”
Scott: Nineteen-year-old Brian Wells, a recent Newbridge graduate, is already paying it back.
Brian Wells: I feel like I’m 100% where I should be.
Scott: Newbridge helped this high school dropout get into a top automotive school and helped him find a job. Brian is now a mechanic at a Mercedes dealership.
Brian: I got my self-confidence. I can get this. I can do this. It is no longer, ‘I can’t.’
Scott: And that, kind of, sums up Nick Andino’s future as well – future Chef Nick Andino.
Nick: It feels great to now have a diploma and know that I will be going to college soon. And I will get a job that I want.
Parker: Six, twelve months ago they were sleeping late, and their parents were pulling their hair. And all of a sudden, they’re in a cap and gown, walking in front of a crowd of people applauding, and saying, ‘You did it! You did it!’
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.