African American Males: Deciding Best Careers Choices and What Their Future Holds
The current economic climate has generated an ill wind over the job market of the country and hampered decisions for African Americans, particularly African American males, to pursue the best career choices for themselves. While many are facing the daily challenge of trying to find work when thousands are losing their jobs, others are just not happy where they are working.
According to a report released by The Conference Board, under 50 percent of American workers are satisfied with their jobs. The survey was the result of a poll that enlisted information from 5,000 households and the startling results highlighted only 45 percent of the respondents were satisfied with their current work environment. The dissatisfaction by employees and the high rate of unemployment overall creates an interesting background for African American males who continue to struggle for acceptance in the American society, especially along the path to the best career choices.
The unemployment rate for African Americans is almost double that of the general population and the best career choices for African American males are often determined by others due largely to physical characteristics versus intellectual qualifications. Picture this, a six foot eight African American male. Would your first thought be that this is a future doctor or scientist? Not exactly and that is part of the problem in providing an arena for them to achieve greatness in other fields such as medicine or science where the numbers of African American males are in stark decline.
“We have to become more aggressive early on with all of our children, but especially our African American male children, because of the lack of variety in the role models they see on a regular basis,” states Sheila Joseph, Esq., Superintendent and Founder of the East New York Preparatory Charter School. "By starting with the career goal process early, we can identify their best career choices and provide them with the exposure and the fundamentals to achieve those goals.”
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., East New York Prep has an extensive curriculum and career focused program format that engages the students in the elementary years to decide on their best career choices and helps the students to believe that they can succeed.
“Children need goals just like adults and it provides them with the something to work towards,” add Joseph. “And we involve the teachers, parents, students and community into the process with a goals ceremony to celebrate the students’ choices and encourage them to reach it. Our students from kindergarten on up have chosen careers that you generally do not hear about in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities. We are talking doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, teachers and fire fighters. Yes, there is the occasional football or basketball player, but even those are coupled with something else.”
Discovering the best career choices for our young people takes time and effort, but aren’t our children worth it?
Determining the best career choices for African American males begins with early involvement and requires a community-based agenda that incorporates the home, school and neighborhood. Giving equal time to all the opportunities that exist provides a more productive launching pad for industry diversity in the global arena.
Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men's Magazine.