The case for vocational education

The media persist in repeating the claim that a four-year degree carries with it a wage premium, even though the reality is far more nuanced (“How Apprenticeship, Reimagined, Vaults Graduates Into Middle Class,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20).  I’m referring now to a new study by the Manhattan Institute showing that the lowest 25 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree earned less than the top 25 percent of those with only a high school diploma.

Moreover, I’ll bet that when salaries are broken down by the majors studied in college, the results would show that a degree is not nearly worth what most people believe it is.  This is important to bear in mind because college is so expensive.  Student debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, which means that graduates spend years living a hand-to-mouth existence just to survive.

Yet vocational education, coupled with an apprenticeship, still is not accorded the respect they need.  The pandemic makes the case for vocational education even stronger.  Let’s hope more young people get the message.

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