Start preparing children from a young age for D-Day
Honing a child's vocational skills, extracurriculars and inter-personal skills from a young age is the need of the hour. This will give them the exposure required; enabling them to become well-rounded young individuals capable of facing any kind of challenge that comes with securing a job. This in no way means forcing a career on them - every human being should have the opportunity to decide for themselves. It just means that we (mentors, teachers) equip young people with all the general tools they will require when they go out to find jobs!
When I was a little girl, I was never cornered into deciding what I wanted to be - my parents just worked hard to start preparing me for a non-existent dream career. They taught me how to network, speak up, hold my ground and let me pick up whatever vocational skill I decided I wanted to take up. When I got older and had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, they introduced me to someone who was from the industry and she took me on as her protege. This meant that as soon as I got out of school (I'm a recent graduate), I had all the tools necessary to find any job I wanted (as long as it didn't require a specialization).
Now I can vouch for the fact that all the extra things I did growing up didn't interfere with my education in the least, in fact, it enhanced it! Everything I was taught by my parents and my mentor all made me a more well-rounded person in school and at University.
I saw on OpenIDEO thought piece somewhere that siad that there should be a reform in education and I thoroughly agree. Setting up a program to introduce students to a mentor is something schools and Universities should do. Everything in life is easier when you have the right tool - a 'Helmsman', as my mentor calls it.
This is the sort of preparation I believe kids need today. Students my age don't look for mentors because they don't know they should. They don't know what skills give you a job and they have to hone these skills far too late into the whole process. If we started early, like my family and my mentor did with me and if we formalized that process by doing it through the education system - then the journey to attaining a job should be a short and sweet one.