Americans without a degree have the skills and knowledge to thrive in higher wage jobs. And jobs that don’t require college can offer a less expensive, shorter pathway to a good career, oftentimes with a higher starting salary. They are often “stackable,” allowing workers to layer new skills and credentials by weaving work with learning and avoiding the student debt trap.
In fact, the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that a quarter of all “good jobs,” those that pay at least $35,000 for young workers and $45,000 for older ones, don’t require a four-year degree. They also found that the earnings potential grows over time for many of these jobs, with certain certificate programs providing a greater long-term ROI than many bachelor’s degrees.
Ironically, the no-college stigma tends to overlook the fact that college, as we know it, is failing a growing number of students. A third of those who start at a public four-year institution haven’t completed their degree six years later, and many never will. And the numbers are far worse for African American, Latinx and low-income students when you look at key demographic segments.
The no-college stigma tends to overlook the fact that college, as we know it, is failing a growing number of students.
Some 36 million Americans have some college education, but no credential — and many are saddled with debt. The picture isn’t rosy even for those who complete a bachelor’s, with 41% of recent graduates underemployed before the downturn, working in jobs that don’t require their level of education and are often low-paying.
In fact, the bottom 25% of bachelor’s degree holders don’t earn any more than the average American who stopped their education at high school. And student debt has reached crisis levels, with too many borrowing for programs that don’t provide a positive ROI. With statistics like that, it should be no surprise that a Strada-Gallup survey suggests that “individuals who complete a vocational, trade or technical program are more positive about their education decisions than are individuals with an associate or bachelor’s degree.”
Against that backdrop, it stands to reason that employers are beginning to embrace the emergence of new (or revived) models for preparing students for the world of work jobs, including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, badges, certificates, certifications and associate degrees. They are also awakening to the positive ROI associated with investing in the creation of talent (as opposed to the old model of searching for existing talent).
We cannot afford to impede access to, or steer Americans away from four-year degrees. But ignoring the potential of workers without degrees reinforces the “all or nothing” narrative that has left millions of Americans saddled with debt, without a viable economic future.
Americans without degrees should not be overlooked for jobs at any rung of the economic ladder. And there is dignity, and nobility, in jobs that have not historically required a college diploma. If we want to help millions of Americans navigate the current crisis and build a more inclusive, equitable future,, we’ve got to think more broadly than the four-year degree as a gatekeeper for economic mobility — and resilience.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Why we need new Trump executive order on ‘no college’ jobs, hiring