Angela, a high-school dropout, lost her mother in 2014. That's when she realised it was time to start over. What were her options without a high-school diploma?

A few poor choices led to risky behaviour during Angela's junior year of high school. Like many students in similar situations, she could not keep up with her studies and graduate from high school. After her mother passed away in 2014, Angela decided it was time to start over. A pivotal moment in her life, leading Angela to realise that if she wished to earn permanent employment and a better life, she had to finish high school and get her diploma.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Population Survey suggests there were higher unemployment rates across all education levels in 2020, as many workers lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Still, statistics show that workers with higher levels of education earn more and have lower unemployment rates than workers with lower levels of education, even in challenging economic times. Although earnings depend on many factors in addition to education—including age, field of study, occupation, gender, race and ethnicity, and location, a high school diploma would increase future employment possibilities.

Angela has been an associate with Adecco USA (Adecco) since 2019, on the same assignment with a large multinational consumer products company. From packer to shrink wrapper to machine operator, she has been promoted many times and went from $10/hr. to now making 18/hr. However, as with many employers, this company requires associates to have a high school diploma before they can be hired permanently, regardless of their level of performance. 

It was clear to Angela that she needed a high school diploma to have the best chance of finding gainful permanent employment that offered excellent benefits, paid time off, vacation time and financial security. “I wanted to do better with my life,” said Angela, with tears welling up in her eyes. But despite trying several education programs, none of them met her personal needs. Courses were difficult or the required time commitment interfered with her work schedule. In consequence, she could not complete her diploma.

The Aspire Academy

Determined to reach this high-educational milestone, Angela approached her Adecco onsite manager, Denise, to learn how she could earn a permanent position and all the benefits that go with it. Denise talked to Angela about the Aspire Academy, funded by the Adecco Group US Foundation, and their high school completion program through Penn Foster and helped her to get enrolled. Because of Penn Foster's fully online format, and even though Angela works four 12-hour shifts per week, she felt confident that she could complete the program. Angela made it her goal to earn her diploma and get hired permanently by the Adecco client.

She concedes that balancing work and school has been challenging but likes the fact that she can do it on her own schedule. Angela appreciates the follow up from her career coaches because it holds her accountable. Her progress since enrolling has been incredible, and the Adecco Group US Foundation surprised Angela by paying off her remaining tuition as a reward for her dedication and outstanding performance. 

In her words, “Well, that’s some good news! Adecco and Denise and the entire team have been wonderful to me and so supportive.” Denise, her Adecco manager, was equally excited. “I am so happy for her! Her attitude and determination are unmatched.”

“Associates are our greatest asset, and Angela has proven to be one of them. Although Angela will no longer be with Adecco, she will advance as a professional, and I know she will continue to do great things once she is hired on. I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to work with her.” -Denise

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High School Diploma: It’s never too late

Angela’s story teaches perseverance and hope, even as high-school graduation rates drop across the US due to the pandemic. Although the rate of high school drop-outs in the US has decreased significantly between 2006 and 2019, the pandemic affected student attendance. During remote school days, some students worked during school hours, and others stayed up late to work, making it difficult for them to focus on their studies.

For Angela, reaching one goal is not enough. As soon as she receives her high school diploma, she wants to further her education and utilise the learning platforms available through the Adecco Group US Foundation’s Aspire Academy to gain more skills. The Adecco Group US Foundation will continue to help students needing support to complete their high school diploma program as we all keep an eye out on the lasting impacts of the pandemic on graduation rates.

Are you thinking about getting your high school diploma? “Go for it!“ says Angela.

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