‘Some college’ pays — for some

California faces a shortage of “middle-skill” workers with technical certificates and associate degrees. The wage premium is high in “allied health” fields, where demand is growing. However, “some college” workers in other fields, such as child care and solar installation, earn no more than people with just a high school diploma.

Vocational certificates requiring one year of schooling or less can raise earnings significantly, a new study finds.

Underemployed grads regret their choices

Most college graduates are underemployed and wish they’d made other choices, conclude two different surveys of young Americans. Not surprisingly, young people who majored in health and STEM fields are doing the best, while liberal arts majors are the most likely to be working in retail and restaurant jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Students who are the first in their families to go to college need help to untangle an increasingly complex financial aid system.

Colleges speed and ‘stack’ job training

Community colleges are accelerating job training and offering “stackable” credentials.

“Everybody wants to be a nurse,” but not everyone has the math and science skills needed, said Ana Sanchez, the “career and college navigator” at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts. In one or two semesters, students can earn a certificate as a patient care technician or medical admin. They can return to campus to add a higher-level health-care certificate or degree.

Technical certificates, degrees pay off in Texas

Texans who earn a technical certificate or associate degree often earn more than four-year graduates in their first year in the workforce, concludes a new study. Some workers with certificates in health-care fields start at more than $70,000 – $30,000 more than the median for graduates with bachelor’s degrees.

College payoff is exaggerated

Going to college and choosing a technical major will increase your earnings — but not as much as you think, argue two American Enterprise Institute scholars.  Confusing correlation and causation exaggerates the college payoff.

Health care pays the greatest “wage premium” for both associate and bachelor’s degrees.

College cuts work hours to duck Obamacare

To avoid paying for health insurance, a Pittsburgh community college will cut the work hours of 400 adjunct instructors and support staff. Under Obamacare, employers don’t have to provide insurance for employees working less than 30 hours a week. Community College of Allegheny County will save $6 million.

“It’s kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don’t have the money to pay for it,” said adjunct biology professor Adam Davis.

The American dream — without the debt

The community college track to success leads savvy students to a good job without a “mountain of debt,” a new book argues. That’s especially true for those who choose a technical or health care major.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Fast-tracking basic skills instruction — three hours a day, four days a week for three weeks –is helping community college students save time and money.

Tennessee: 2-year degree pays off

New associate-degree graduates in Tennessee average higher earnings than four-year graduates. Health care, construction and technology are top-earning fields for two-year graduates.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Community colleges will get $500 million in federal grants to fund job training.

5.6 million new jobs in health care

The fast-growing demand for health care will create 5.6 million new jobs in health care over the next eight years, according to a Georgetown study. But health care workers will need more education as jobs are “upskilled.”

Where the jobs (and pay) will be

Where will the jobs (and middle-class wages) will be in the next few years for people without four-year college degrees? Retiring baby boomers will open up manufacturing jobs for male high school graduates. Women will need a certificate or associate degree — preferably in a health-care field — to have a shot at earning at least $35,000 a year.

Also on Community College Spotlight: To provide realistic training in restaurant work, a college culinary arts program has opened its own bistro.