IN 2020 there were about 164 million people employed in the U.S. labor force. Of those individuals (25 and over) nearly 40 percent possessed a Bachelor’s degree or more. Those individuals would be described as having high specific vocational preparation (SVP) therefore generally qualifying for skilled jobs with typically higher prestige and pay. Such jobs likely have greater opportunity for personal growth, promotion and satisfaction. The labor market is always a competitive place where employers vie for the best and most qualified addition to their workplace. So, we are all in the process of improving our skills to make us standout and to make us competitive.

African Americans are on the right path toward improving their skills through educational attainment. Let’s look at some 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the U.S. labor force, 60 percent of Asian Americans, 43 percent of white Americans, 28 percent of African Americans and 20 percent of Hispanic Americans had attained at least a Bachelor’s degree. But, what is very interesting and hopeful about African Americans in the labor force is that they or clearly on the path of improving their overall skill level. African Americans compared to the other racial/ethnic groups had a highest rate of “some college” and Associate degree attainment at 33 percent. Whites were at 28 percent and Asian and Hispanic at 16 percent. Looking at this data optimistically (a glass half-full approach) I conclude that this is the essential challenge for our mentors – help encourage college persistence toward attainment of the Bachelor’s degree. We at want to be that spark that ignites and reinforces the genius in all of us.