Older Workers Face a Test

Many state employees nearing retirement were high school dropouts who got a low-level job in places like the highway department and worked their way up. Legislation has been passed requiring state employees to have a high school diploma. So state government is requiring that employees without a high school diploma take the GED—the Graduate Equivalency Exam. This is causing some problems for older state workers who haven't seen a classroom in decades and had trouble with them even then.

Some of the older workers are also up for promotions and will not be considered without the GED. Many of the employees are within five years of retirement.

This comes at a time when the Wall Street Journal reports results of a University of Chicago study that says the GED is of "minimal value in the labor market." The study warns that using the GED instead of getting a high school diploma might help reduce drop-out rates, but it is of little value in helping students pursue higher education or improve job skills in the labor market.