Help Your Kids Explore Careers for a Post-Pandemic World

Posted January 25, 2021

Starting in March 2020 in the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed our nation and forced schools across the globe to shut down as we determined the safest way to keep living and learning. For many parents, this meant adjusting work schedules or working from home so they could take care of, and teach, their kids. Millions of parents across the country — as well as the entire globe — have found themselves taking on a much more active, hands-on role in their child’s education. 

Many young adults have also changed their educational plans for what they want to do after high school. Enrollment in all forms of higher learning and skilled training has dropped because many students decided to put their training on hold during the pandemic — they didn’t want to leave their hometown, take classes completely online, or incur student debt during a public health and economic crisis. Who can blame them?

However, with a few specific industry exceptions, the need for quality, skilled workers has only grown since the pandemic began. And this demand will escalate as more Baby Boomers retire and our workforce tries to rebound from a decades-long period when fewer and fewer students enrolled in training programs for many in-demand jobs we desperately need today. 

With large-scale vaccination efforts underway, the U.S. is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Families of high school students and young adults are evaluating what comes next. This means looking hard at their career aspirations, how they learn best, their proposed paths to achieving those goals, and their financial situation.

That’s where, with the support of major employers in the state, comes in.

The primary goal of HirePaths is to show parents that young people can build very successful careers without taking the four-year university path, if their career track calls for a different form of secondary training and education. 

The young person who goes to a technical school or community college should be just as celebrated as their high school classmates destined for a four-year university. In fact, research shows that within a few years, most young adults who graduate technical programs will be out-earning their same-age four-year college peers — probably with very little or no debt. 

As an added benefit, young people hired for entry-level positions are often eligible for on-the-job training and employer tuition-reimbursement programs for more education and a leg up on the career ladder. That might mean today’s entry-level worker will later earn a college degree with the financial help of an employer.  

Economists at the Kansas Department of Labor publish a ranked list of high-demand occupations for the entire state and each subregion. This list is created by combining projected employment data, job postings on KansasWorks, and the annual results of the Kansas Wage Survey of employers. 

These rankings represent real jobs that employers need to fill, but they can’t, because they can’t find enough qualified and willing people. 

When you look at the top 20 statewide, in-demand jobs of 2020, only four of them require a bachelor’s degree. The other 16 jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent, some post-secondary training, or on-the-job training. While some of these top 20 in-demand jobs offer entry-level wages, many come with annual salaries greater than $40,000.  

Through HirePaths, we hope to show today’s parents and kids of all ages that there are many possible paths to a successful career and a great life. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for real-life stories of successful young professionals. Come back often to learn more about solid Kansas employers who offer real jobs your child (in the future) or you (today!) could apply for. 

Please share and tell other friends, family and educators about this exciting new resource. If your company would like to learn more about supporting this effort, or if you know someone with a great story we could feature, please contact me at