Vocational education needed now more than ever

Millions of college graduates are seeing little return for their degrees, even in today’s hot job market (“This job market is hot. So why are half of college grades missing out?” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 23). Yet despite the shrinking wage premium attached to a four-year degree compared with a high school vocational diploma, career and technical education still gets little respect.

That’s a national scandal because the job market is totally saturated with degree holders, leaving those with trade skills in high demand.  I’m talking now, for example, about plumbers, electricians and welders.  For the first time in decades, college grads are likely to be either unemployed or underemployed than the population as a whole.  Meanwhile, they are saddled with student debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

There was a time when graduation from any college with any major meant a well-paying job. But that was because so few people had a four-year degree. Today, the situation is totally different.  High school grads have seen a sharp increase in earnings, while the lower-half of college grads have not.  In fact, the gap is now the smallest in 15 years.

Yet we persist in college for all.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Vocational education needed now more than ever”

  1. Well, you are of course right. However, college was a goal not everyone could achieve. Now that it is much easier to go to college but costs many times too much, there are not enough jobs. I think it might be a hard thing, no slur intended to the fine plumbers, welders and building contractors out there, to settle for blue collar because there are no whites.

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  2. dkhatt: When few people had a college degree, the major mattered little as did the school. But today, the degree has lost its value except for certain majors and from certain schools. Nevertheless, college for all remains an obsession.

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