Countless articles in the media site a correlation between higher degrees and higher income. This perceived higher earnings for having a 4-year degree has fueled a “college for all” philosophy; causing educators and parents to encourage going to the university – any university – to major in anything – in pursuit of future job security, social mobility, and financial prosperity. But with rising education costs and the oversaturation of some academic majors in the workforce, many of us know that that the university-bound pathway isn’t for everyone…at least not immediately after high school.
We know that only a quarter of those that initially enroll will complete a bachelor’s degree; and for many their career exploration process begins after graduation. It is here that many discover that their degree may not have prepared them for the world of work. They may be highly educated, but not every degree is direct preparation for employment (like my philosophy degree). This misalignment between degrees and job skills causes half of university graduates to be under-employed in what are called gray-collar jobs; taking positions that do not require the education they have received, at a cost that is more than they can afford. All while the income for the top individuals in a wide variety of skilled jobs that require an industry credential or 2-year degree is far higher than the average income for many occupations that claim to require a 4-year degree; and each of these technicians are in very high skilled areas that are in great demand. Well-intentioned attempts to send more and more students straight to the university will not change the types of jobs that dominate our economy, nor will a “college-for-all” mentality mask these labor market realities. This message needs to be significantly broadened to include career exploration and “a post-high school credential for all.”
Since new and emerging occupations in every industry now require a combination of academic knowledge and technical ability, we need to ensure that we’re guiding students towards careers and not just to the university. The Career Cruising products are excellent examples of tools that help to identify personally appropriate career pathways and educational alternatives for people of all ages. Alas, not everyone uses Career Cruising. So how else can we ensure each student’s success - regardless which path they take – and how do we communicate this message to our fellow educators, counselors, and parents?
In collaboration with Citrus College in Southern California, a motion graphics video was developed to explain the importance of self-exploration, career exploration, and why educational institutions and parents should be promoting alternatives to career-success other than solely baccalaureate achievement. This popular video, “Success in the New Economy: How prospective college students can gain a competitive advantage,” discusses the real workforce demands and the best role for career & technical education in preparing students for high-wage, in-demand jobs. You may view this video at http://vimeo.com/67277269. I encourage you to share this video and continue to educate others around you about the realities of today’s labor market. Thanks to companies like Career Cruising, and as a result of your personal passion for all students to succeed, the career & technical education revolution is spreading far and wide in schools across America. Keep up the great work; we owe it to our students, and to ourselves.
ABOUT KEVIN FLEMING
Passionate to help all students fulfill their potential, Kevin is Dean of Instruction for Career & Technical Education at Norco College (CA), serves as the Principle Investigator for the National Center for Supply Chain Technology Education, and is managing partner for Telos Educational Services.
To learn more about Kevin and to view the video “Success in the New Economy,” please visit his website at www.TelosES.com