Great article on other paths to success outside the typical college track. We need to focus much more on how these paths can be increased and strengthened. Pushing every kid towards college is not the answer.
Americans have a host of postsecondary options other than a four-year degree—associate degrees, occupational certificates, industry certifications, apprenticeships. Many economists are bullish about the prospects of what they call “middle-skilled” workers. In coming years, according to some, at least a third and perhaps closer to half of all U.S. jobs will require more than high school but less than four years of college—and most will involve some sort of technical or practical training.
Will these be just jobs—or real careers? Is the system preparing enough Americans to fill them? Are there adequate opportunities for training? Do we do enough to steer young people toward technical training?
The first requirement of any upward path is entry ramps at the ground level.
The second requirement of any good upward path is for training to lead to a job.
A third requirement of a good career path is that it must be aligned with economic needs.
Many high schools and community colleges teach job skills, but too many of them use outmoded techniques and equipment or steer young people to industries that aren’t growing. The best way to stay current is to partner with an employer, who can offer advice about what’s in demand, help design curricula, lend equipment, even—like JV—provide training.
Like construction, nursing is a time-tested path to the middle class, and it has many of the same hallmarks: easy on-ramps, goal-oriented job training and a series of ascending steps, with industry-certified credentials to guide the way.