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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

College or Chipotle? High school graduates need more choices

America invests more than $500 billion of taxpayer money in colleges each year, writes Ryan Craig, in an Education Next forum. That "doesn’t include hundreds of billions in additional spending on making income-driven repayment more generous, targeted loan forgiveness, or progressives’ holy grail of blanket student-loan forgiveness."

By contrast, total spending on apprenticeship is less than $400 million. "The average apprentice receives about 2 percent of what taxpayers spend on the average college student."

Funding earn-and-learn apprenticeships would improve socioeconomic mobility and strengthen the economy, writes Craig, the author of Apprentice Nation. Fewer young people would end up with college debt, but no degree.

Young people are increasingly wary about taking out student loans, but few are training for skilled trades or working in jobs that will lead to "stable, successful careers," Craig writes. Many want to become social media "influencers."

. . . as my friend Ted Dintersmith, author of What School Could Be, told me, “we’ve set up a college or Chipotle choice for young Americans: go on to college or get a crappy job in a fast-food restaurant.” For far too many, there’s nothing in between.

"College for all" isn't working for many, especially those from lower-income families, writes Craig. "Six-year college completion rates for Black, Hispanic, and Native American students range from 40 to 50 percent." Among recent college graduates, 40 percent are underemployed, working in jobs that don't require higher education.

Apprenticeships have expanded to health care and other fields.

The White House claims to support apprenticeship, but "the Department of Labor’s recent 779-page notice of proposed rulemaking . . . would add dozens of additional hoops to jump through in order to register an apprenticeship program."

A training program for energy workers in Pennsylvania is foregoing state and federal funding to avoid complicated, time-consuming regulations, writes Neetu Arnold on City Journal.

Ben Wildavsky, author of The Career Arts: Making the Most of College, Credentials, and Connections, argues that college degrees remain valuable in the job market.

"Today, 37.7 percent of Americans hold a bachelor’s degree or higher," he writes, and "the economic returns to degrees remain close to an all-time high. The "average college graduate earns nearly 75 percent more in annual wages than does the average worker with only a high school diploma."

Some employers are dropping degree requirements, Wildavsky writes. Job listings now call for skills, not just degrees. However, that's made little difference in hiring, at least so far. "For all its fanfare, the increased opportunity promised by Skills-Based Hiring has borne out in not even 1 in 700 hires last year," concludes a new study.

Wildavsky supports apprenticeships as one choice for young people, and he thinks developing alternative credentials for people to prove their skills would be helpful. But, he concludes, college is not chopped liver.

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Apr 10

 “we’ve set up a college or Chipotle choice for young Americans: go on to college or get a crappy job in a fast-food restaurant.” For far too many, there’s nothing in between.

What utter bullshxt! I have difficulty believing that San Antonio is the only major city with a shortage of skilled tradesmen, and companies willing to hire apprentices straight out of high school. Hell, every week I see service vans with hiring ads painted on the sides, soliciting applicants for jobs in plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

Apr 10
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One should look up the job announcements for those jobs and review all of the caveats for getting one of them. Also, such training programs are really affected by non-compete clauses that vary state to state. In addition, if one looks at San Antonio Texas, a tradesmen that works in the residential sector has better be able to speak Spanish.

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