Is a College Degree As Valuable Today?

Today more colleges are awarding degrees to people who cannot find employment.  Young people have been told since I was a child that a four-year degree would be the ticket to employment and wealth. 

Yet the blogs from graduates of my college today all are filled with graduates seeking some kind of employment.

The fact is that today there are more blue collar jobs available that pay in the five-digits for people than ever before.  Mike Rowe, of the television show, "Dirty Jobs says that trade schools outnumber major university in placing graduates in full-time employment.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley in an article by Mark Krupnick.

Standing in a cavernous teaching lab full of industrial equipment on the college’s Tulare campus, Emery said the decades-long national push for high school graduates to get bachelor’s degrees left vocational programs with an image problem, and the nation’s factories with far fewer skilled workers than needed. “I’m a survivor of that teardown mode of the ’70s and ’80s, that college-for-all thing,” he said. This has had the unintended consequence of helping flatten out or steadily erode the share of students taking vocational courses. In California’s community colleges, for instance, it’s dropped to 28 percent from 31 percent since 2000, contributing to a shortage of trained workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. “All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option.” Derrick Roberson, who is training to become an electrician Research by the state’s 114-campus community college system showed that families and employers alike didn’t know of the existence or value of vocational programs and the certifications they confer, many of which can add tens of thousands of dollars per year to a graduate’s income. “We needed to do a better job getting the word out,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, the system’s vice chancellor for workforce and economic development. High schools and colleges have struggled for decades to attract students to job-oriented classes ranging from welding to nursing. They’ve tried cosmetic changes, such as rebranding “vocational” courses as “career and technical education,” but students and their families have yet to buy in, said Andrew Hanson, a senior research analyst with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Federal figures show that only 8 percent of undergraduates are enrolled in certificate programs, which tend to be vocationally oriented. Mike Rowe of television's "Dirty Jobs" was quoted in an article by By Matthew Wisner

"$1.3 Million Dollars in Student Loans is not the answer," says Mike Rowe. "We have a subordinate view of these trade jobs."

“There is no hope without an education, got to be clear, you have to have some competency. But the idea that the best path for the most people just happens to be the most expensive path, there’s just something fundamentally corrupt,” Rowe told the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney. “The cost of college has just gone through the roof, and yet, we still talk about it as if it is truly the best way for the most people, $1.3 trillion in student loans, it’s not a mystery.”

Rowe says millions of American jobs don't require a college education. “I’m fascinated by the skills gap. The existence of opportunity shouldn’t be a polemic, it shouldn’t be political, but of course today everything is right? But 5.6 million jobs that exist as we speak 75% of which do not require a four-year degree are sitting there.”

Rowe says putting an emphasis on college education sends many graduates into the work force saddled with high debt--and without skills that could have been acquired more affordably at vocational schools. 

“We have this subordinate view of all kinds of different forms of education that lead to these opportunities, therefore we have the same subordinate view of all these jobs that go begging.”

Have we put too much emphasis on a four-year degree?
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