Job prep becomes job one

Certificates or degrees? After pushing for more college degrees, President Obama has endorsed industry-designed certificates in manufacturing skills that will enable community college students to qualify for a job with decent pay in a year. That’s if they don’t need remedial math, reading or writing.

Also on Community College Spotlight: New York City’s P-TECH will run from ninth through “14th grade.” Graduates, who will earn a high school diploma and an associate degree in applied science, will be prepared for IT jobs at IBM or transfer to a four-year university.

Detroit-area students interested in health careers can choose a five-year high school affiliated with a community college and a health center: They graduate with high school diploma, an associate degree in science and clinical experience.

About Joanne


  1. The key is ‘will not be needing remedial education’, and that means being ready for the following courses out of high school:

    math (starting with pre-calculus) (3 credits)
    science (general biology or general chemistry) (4 credits)
    English 101 (1st semester english) (3 credits)
    History or Political Sci (3 credits)

    None of the above courses are classified as ‘remedial education’ and
    ful-fill many of the requirements to be admitted to most majors in a 2
    or 4 year degree program.

    Certifications usually require at least 24-32 credit hours, and are
    not applicable towards an associate’s degree (i.e. – you cannot earn
    a certification and get an associates degree without taking additional

    The certification might do wonders, but by in large, will depend on the
    ability of the student to actually do the work (unless they want to lower
    the bar for earning the certification).

  2. I think this is a VERY good idea.

    Let me give you one example. I don’t think carpenters jobs are yet being outsourced (correct me if I’m wrong).

    However, when I did some research into uses of various math skills to share with my students while teaching as an elementary teacher, I discovered that not being able to do simple math with fractions was the NUMBER ONE reason for trainees dropping out of the woodworking industry. I have also heard that machinists and shipbuilders, etc. are using math constantly–and I’m referring to ARITHMETIC, not to the Calculus-type math!

    Certificates in useful skills such as these would include enough ordinary math practice to make the workers successful in their profession. I’m sure plumbers have to use math too (measuring), and I don’t see that being outsourced, either.

    Plenty of people can’t afford college degrees, or afford them the first time around. With a useful skill that pays well with which to earn their living, they can continue their education. Plenty of people drove trucks or taxis while going to school at night; similarly many others work as carpenters and plumbers while learning another profession that requires a higher education, or law school, for example.

  3. If I were a fully-employed carpenter or plumber, I would not bother with law school.

  4. Lynne,

    A large number of people under the age of 25 are lacking in many basic skills which I take for granted everyday. The reason is that somewhere along the line, we stopped teaching basics and left it up to things like calculators and registers that figure out the change for the cashier.

    Never mind that many cashiers never bother to count back money to the customer (like most people did before registers figured out the change). I’ve seen deli clerks who can’t figure out what 2/3 of a pound is on a digital scale, cashiers when given $10.10 for a $9.85 purchase that can’t figure out the customer wants a quarter back, and so on.

    On the woodworking issue, not understanding fractions is why many of them drop out (which is a concept which used to be learned in grades 1-5, which I attended from 1969 to 1974). In the electricians area, knowledge of basic algebra is a must (Ohm’s law, etc), yet many persons who might want to work in that field never get the chance due to poor math skills.

    Many skilled trades require a solid knowledge of both reading and math in order to complete the job successfully and with minimal waste of material and time, but due to the state of our public education system, the problem is unlikely to go away any time soon (say within the next decade).

    Teaching fractions isn’t that hard, and can be done with a pie, fruit, pizza, or a cake.

  5. I don’t think carpenters jobs are yet being outsourced (correct me if I’m wrong).

    You’re wrong. They’re being exported to the unemployment line and to unskilled laborers.

  6. I’d rather do the job myself (and know it gets done correctly) rather than allow an unskilled laborer to do it and have it done badly (or not at all). I also don’t want the liability issue involved with an unskilled laborer doing work for me.