In my work as a probation officer, I see a lot of examples of how the lack of an education can hold people back. It seems that on a daily basis, I have people report who don't have a job or are underemployed, and the reason for it, in most cases, is that they don't really have the basic skills necessary to do anything besides ringing up fast food or sacking groceries, and they don't really have any desire to do those things. That is why the importance of education can never be underestimated.
The first probationer who comes to mind is one who went to work while he was in high school at a place that manufactures sheet metal. He did not finish high school, and learned everything about that particular business. He said he was really good at what he did, but the problem was, he had never learned how to do anything else, and he only finished the ninth grade. The company went under, and he was not able to find work for more than a year, and when he did, it was minimum wage. He is a prime example of the importance of education, because now he is on felony probation for theft, when he had never had so much as a ticket before!
Another example of the importance of education is a probationer I have who committed forgery. He too had never been in trouble with the law before, and a friend of his asked him to forge, or as his friend put it, "sign" a financial document for him, so that he could receive a payout. He told my probationer that he would split the payout with him once it arrived. When it did arrive, his "friend" split, and he ended up getting arrested. I think the saddest part of the whole story is the document itself said it is a federal offense to forge the document, but he could only read at an elementary school level, and could not understand the warning.
One of the things that is hardest for me to watch is some of the probationers, particularly the older ones, try to get a job without a high school diploma or GED. This is where the importance of education really comes into play, because they have four strikes against them. They are not educated, they have few job skills, they are less appealing because of their age and they have a felony background. I do whatever I can to help them, but I know they will have the hardest time of all finding employment.
The importance of education cannot be underestimated, and I see it everyday when I go to work. It is just a reality of life that most jobs that pay a living wage require some level of education.