John F. Kennedy photo

Labor Day Message to the Youth of the Nation.

September 03, 1962

I HAVE an important message to deliver on this Labor Day 1962 to the youth of the Nation.

My urgent message to you is, "Return to school."

For thousands of you, the decision you make this September about returning to school may mean the difference between possible hardship and unemployment or a fruitful life as a productive member of our society.

I have been informed by Acting Secretary of Labor Wirtz that the rate of summer employment for youth this year has been higher than any year since 1957. This is a good sign, but do not let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. If you have not completely availed yourself of existing educational opportunities, and if you have not reached the full extent of your educational potential, do not make the mistake of not returning to school.

My Committee on Youth Employment has recently pointed out again that today a million young people, 25 and under, are out of school and out of work. Many of these youth are out of work because they do not have the educational background or training necessary to fit them into today's work force.

We know that 5 million jobs will open up in this decade for skilled workers, and yet, at the present time, the number of youth being trained for these jobs is totally inadequate.

In light of our national need for a better-prepared work force, it is tragic indeed to be reminded of the estimate that 71/4 million boys and girls will fail to complete high school during the decade of the 1960's, unless we, as a Nation, take positive steps to prevent it. This situation is tragic, not only because it represents a great loss to our society in undeveloped talent and potential, but also because the outlook for these young people is black indeed.

There is no doubt that anyone without a high school diploma has a hard time finding a job today, and will have an even harder time in the years ahead, as jobs require an even higher degree of skill and training to perform.

Parents, teachers, counselors, clergy, and any other adults who have an opportunity to influence the direction of young people-please join me today in this urgent task of persuading our young people to equip themselves to the utmost of their potential.

To you, the young people who have not completed your education--who may have dropped out of school--and to those who are considering doing so--go back to your school desks when your school term begins. Go back with a real desire to learn. Go back with an intent and purpose that will make you a better student. Go back and become prepared, so when your time comes to enter the labor force, you will be a more valuable asset to our Nation.

Note: The message was released at Newport, R.I.

John F. Kennedy, Labor Day Message to the Youth of the Nation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives