"The vast majority of students' education after high school will look nothing like mine," says Jeff Livingston, Senior Vice President at McGraw-Hill Education. 

Livingston's education looked like this: he graduated high school, then went to an Ivy League university, graduated "and went on with my career," he says. "That is now an unusual experience to a ridiculous extent except among education policy people."

The reality is that many more students leave high school and go directly to work, where they might hope to learn career skills on the job. The problem, however, as Livingston points out, is that we have a "tragic absence of apprenticeships" in the United States. In Europe, on the other hand, young people are getting "both academic training and work training while being paid by an employer."

Livingston says young people in the U.S. are missing out on job opportunities that involve middle-level skills. "In the United States we have shamefully convinced most high school students that they either need to go to Harvard or they need to go to McDonald’s," he says. 

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