It’s better in to live in your mother’s basement, drink beer and play video games all day than to major in English or sociology, go into debt and then live in the basement, says Aaron Clarey, author of Worthless: The Young Person’s Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major.
A high school graduate, Anthony Oliveri earned $30 an hour building cars at NUMMI’s Fremont, California plant, until he was laid off in 2010 along with 4,700 other unionized auto workers. He now earns $12.80 an hour as a security guard patrolling high-tech campuses. It’s a different story for Greg Bostick, who studied machine technology at Oakland’s Laney College after the layoff and found work as a quality inspector.
More than a third of the Bay Area’s manufacturing jobs have vanished in the last 20 years. New manufacturing jobs require technical training and skills that old-style factory workers didn’t need, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
“When my father was around, working in manufacturing, he had a sixth-grade education,” says Jose Anaya, the initiative director of the Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies, based at El Camino College in Hawthorne. “He got a job and that’s because they valued hard work and they valued brute strength. Now that isn’t so much needed. They’re looking for a higher set of skills.”
Modern Bay Area manufacturers are small operations producing electronic and medical devices. Workers need “computer skills, problem-solving savvy, the ability to talk to designers and customers and to understand their concepts, and a willingness to retrain in order to make next big thing.”
“Twenty or 30 years ago you could have a high school degree and you could expect to get a job in a pretty stable industry and maybe have a one-earner family,” says Doug Henton, CEO of Collaborative Economics in San Mateo. Now, “it’s a more challenging time. You might need a couple of years beyond high school and even then you might need two incomes to support a family.”
The Manufacturers Institute estimates 600,000 jobs in advanced manufacturing are unfilled. The Boston Consulting Group estimates 100,000, but predicts the gap will grow. The average age of skilled manufacturing workers — machinists, welders, mechanics — is 56.
Tesla bought the NUMMI plant to make electric cars, but it’s hired only a few hundred laid-off NUMMI workers. Tesla’s highly automated factory needs fewer, more highly skilled workers.
After completing Laney’s two-year machine technology program, Bostick found a job at a machine shop through a Laney instructor. He now works there part-time and works full-time at a second job, where he uses computer programs and sophisticated tools to inspect parts. With extra work hours, he makes almost as much as he did at NUMMI, where he earned $29 an hour plus overtime. ”There are really no blue-collar jobs in California that you can make that kind of money and have no skills,” Bostick says. “I don’t know of any.”
The Jobs Of The Future Don’t Require A College Degree, writes Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in Forbes.
Most of the fastest-growing jobs aren’t “knowledge economy” jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The aging population will require many more home health aides and other medical support workers; the BLS estimates strong demand for iron and rebar workers.
Being a good carpenter (56% growth) or a good medical secretary (41% growth) doesn’t require a college degree, but it “takes smarts (actual smarts, not just book smarts), hard work and dedication,” writes Gobry. Skilled tradesmen will earn a good living.
Carpenters may do well, but “helpers” in construction trades average less than $30,000 a year, according to the BLS. Personal care aides and home health aides top the list of fast-growing occupations. The median annual pay is lousy: $19,640 and $20,560.
Are Bachelor’s Degrees Worth It? asks Jeffrey Selingo, author of College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, in the Wall Street Journal.
With unemployment among college graduates at historic highs and outstanding student-loan debt at $1 trillion, the question families should be asking is whether it’s worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a degree from Podunk U. if it’s just a ticket to a barista’s job at Starbucks.
In Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, families can now compare colleges and majors based on the first-year earnings of graduates of in-state schools. First-year salaries are higher for workers with an associate degree in an occupational field than for four-year graduates. ”
In Virginia, graduates with technical degrees from community colleges make $20,000 more in the first year after college than do graduates in several fields who get bachelor’s degrees,” reports Selingo.
Four-year graduates usually earn more over a lifetime than two-year graduates — but only if they actually complete the degree.
“Not all college degrees or college graduates are equal,” warns a Brookings policy brief, Should Everyone Go To College?
While the average return to obtaining a college degree is clearly positive, we emphasize that it is not universally so. For certain schools, majors, occupations, and individuals,
college may not be a smart investment. By telling all young people that they should go to
college no matter what, we are actually doing some of them a disservice.
Going to a highly selective college and majoring in a STEM field lead to high earnings. By contrast, education or arts majors ”in the service sector” earn less than the average high school graduate over a lifetime, according to Brookings. (It’s not clear what “service sector” means.)
Is College Worth It? Consider the alternatives before going into debt advises William J. Bennett, a former U.S. Secretary of Education, and co-author David Wilezol. A four-year degree isn’t necessary for success, Bennett tells U.S. News.
By 2018 there will be 14 million jobs available, well-paying jobs, which will require more than a high school diploma but less than a college diploma, Bennett says. Community college graduates (with a technical certificate or two-year degree) can earn more than four-year graduates.
Community college, trade school or working for a year and thinking about are all alternatives to pursuing a bachelor’s degree, Bennett says.
Put some money in the bank. Join the military is another alternative where you earn great trade skills. We heard from an expert that there are 115,000 janitors in America with B.A.s. It’s fine to be a janitor, but you didn’t have to spend that kind of money to be a janitor.
Parents and students may be surprised at “the large array of options available, other than the B.A., that can give you success and economic success, and not have to make you defer for 10 years getting married and starting a family and buying a house,” says Bennett.
Track graduation rates and default rates for all students — not just full-timers — advises Education Sector in Degrees of Value: Evaluating the Return on the College Investment. In addition, it’s important to take into account whether colleges are enrolling low-income, high-risk students or taking only affluent students. Other suggestions:
First-year earnings matched by College Measures are simply too limiting given that employees’ salaries are often volatile in the years right after college graduation. A more useful dataset would show lifetime earnings, sortable by institution and major, and connect to other government data sources, so policymakers could more easily track the earnings of those who received government aid, such as Pell grants or student loans.
When viewed in isolation, career earnings can be misleading, if for example an institution places most of its graduates in public-service fields. A better consumer information system would give students and policymakers a snapshot of the types of jobs graduates from particular colleges and majors end up taking.
Student satisfaction surveys also would help prospective students evaluate their choices.
Youth unemployment is a worldwide problem, reports The Economist in Generation jobless. Yet many employers in countries from the U.S. to Morocco say they can’t find entry-level workers with the right skills.
Poor basic education is only part of the problem.
Countries with the lowest youth jobless rates have a close relationship between education and work. Germany has a long tradition of high-quality vocational education and apprenticeships, which in recent years have helped it reduce youth unemployment despite only modest growth.
Countries with high youth unemployment are short of such links. In France few high-school leavers have any real experience of work. In north Africa universities focus on preparing their students to fill civil-service jobs even as companies complain about the shortage of technical skills. The unemployment rate in Morocco is five times as high for graduates as it is for people with only a primary education.
Employers do much less training on the job.
Many countries are trying to improve vocational schools and develop apprenticeships, reports The Economist.
In 2010 South Korea created a network of vocational “meister” schools—from the German for “master craftsman”—to reduce the country’s shortage of machine operators and plumbers. . . . In Britain some further-education colleges are embracing the principle that the best way to learn is to do: North Hertfordshire College has launched a business venture with Fit4less, a low-cost gym. Bluegrass College in Kentucky and Toyota have created a replica of a car factory, where workers and students go to classes together.
Bluegrass is a community and technical college, so job training is part of the mission. Many community colleges work closely with employers on workforce development.
Via Meadia has more thoughts on practical vs. academic education.
More employers are demanding an associate or bachelor’s degree for jobs that didn’t used to require higher education, reports CBS Money Watch.
Eighteen percent of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they’d raised their education requirements. More than half of employers require some college and 44 percent demand a bachelor’s degree.
The value of a college degree “varies dramatically based on the price of education, the student’s major, how long it takes to progress through school and whether the student borrowed to finance a degree,” notes Money Watch.
Thirty-two percent of hiring managers said they’re now hiring college graduates for jobs that previously went to high school graduates. The trend is particularly acute in the financial services and health care professions, according to the survey.
. . . CareerBuilder’s survey also found that employers were better satisfied with their increasingly educated workforce, saying the college graduates were more productive and provided a higher quality of work.
College graduates are taking lower-skilled jobs, “pushing unskilled workers out of the labor force altogether,” writes Megan McArdle on the Daily Beast. She cites a paper by Paul Beaudry, David Green, and Benjamin Sand, which argues that job demands rose till 2000 and are now falling.
If they’re right about the “de-skilling” of jobs, it’s “ferociously depressing news,” writes McArdle.
It suggests that we’re pushing more and more people into (more and more expensive) college programs, even as the number of jobs in which they can use those skills has declined. A growing number of students may be in a credentialling arms race to gain access to routine service jobs. Or maybe the productivity of our nation’s wait staff is spiking as more skilled workers flood into these jobs.
Some 284,000 college graduates were working in minimum-wage jobs last year, reports the Huffington Post.
Manufacturers are expanding — if they can find skilled workers, reports Minnesota Public Radio.
BRAINERD, Minn. — Pequot Tool and Manufacturing, whose 135 workers fabricate metal and plastic parts for aviation, agriculture, medical and other industries, is poised for growth in Pequot Lakes, about 25 miles north of here.
But the company is turning away customers, chief executive officer Karlo Goerges says. Goerges can’t find workers with the right skills, he said.
The U.S. Labor Department has given $500 million in grants to technical colleges and universities to expand training programs in manufacturing. Community and technical colleges in central Minnesota will use $13 million to train workers in high-tech manufacturing skills.
Companies say high-tech and even entry level jobs are tough to fill. What used to be, say, simply a welding job, now demands computer skills, robotics, adaptability, flexibility and more.
“If I had a skilled person walk in today, we’d probably hire them on the spot,” Goerges said. “Right now we’re turning away work that we can’t do, because we don’t have the people to do it. And if we don’t have people, we can’t expand.”
Manufacturing jobs in Minnesota pay an average of $56,000 a year and each job creates nearly two jobs in supporting industries, economists estimate.
John Newhouse, who runs a custom mold-making company, said applicants for entry level jobs often lack basic mechanical skills that used to be taught in high school. ”A factory job is no longer a factory job,” Newhouse said. “A factory job is now a value-added asset to a company.”
Marlene Mixa, director of strategic grants initiatives at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, is leading the job training effort, which will teach reading, math and computer skills, plus communications skills and working in teams. ”You need someone who can be flexible, who has that understanding of the whole process, who has critical thinking skills, problem solving skills,” Mixa said.
Central Lakes and technical colleges in St. Cloud and Pine City will use the federal grant to develop new degree programs in automation, plastics, and reverse engineering and rapid prototyping.
“Not everyone has to go to a four-year liberal arts college. We still need plumbers,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week.
“Why aren’t we graduating more kids not just with a high school diploma but with an industry certification degree?” he asked the auditorium full of conservatives.
According to Rubio,there are 3 million jobs that aren’t being filled because Americans don’t have the right skills for these jobs.
“They need skills for these jobs,” he continued.”So, instead of being a receptionist, she can be an ultra-sound tech.”
Rubio also argued that not only are not enough Americans acquiring useful skills, but so many of these same Americans are graduating from four-year universities swamped in student debt.
The 41-year-old senator recently finished paying off his student loans using the proceeds of his book. He borrowed nearly $150,000 to earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 1993 and a law degree from the University of Miami in 1996.
Data can be powerful, writes Mandy Zatynski on Education Sector’s The Quick and the Ed.
Two years ago, Steve Schneider, a high school guidance counselor in Sheboygan, Wisc., had been fairly satisfied. More than 90 percent of his students graduated every year, and according to senior exit surveys, about three-quarters went to a four-year institution, with the remaining enrolling in local, technical colleges.
Or so he thought.
In fact, about half of South High School graduates continue onto any kind of postsecondary education. So what happened? Schneider got free access to school-specific data from the National Student Clearinghouse that followed his students where school officials hadn’t. The data, he said, was “awakening.”
Of the 50 percent of graduates who enrolled in college, 60 percent chose a community or technical college; 40 percent enrolled at a four-year institution. The other 50 percent entered the workforce — or tried to — with minimal job skills.
Schneider decided to help students explore career interests and earn college credits while still in high school. South High School partnered with a local technical college to offer 22 dual-credit classes in business, marketing, and information technology.
Local employers have identified in-demand jobs and helped pay for the program, including updating the school’s labs. They’ve also offered paid seven-week internships in engineering.