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Counselor’s Corner

Career and technical education courses provide the competitive edge

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Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013 12:00 am

Did you know?

  • Census data reveals that the number of Americans under the age of 25 with at least a bachelor’s degree has grown 38% since 2000.
  • 53% of recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed.
  • According to “The Project on Student Debt,” 51% of California’s graduates leave college with an average student debt of $18,000.
  • According to a recent Rutgers’ University study, two-thirds of college graduates report that if they could do it over, they would have pursued a different major and/or taken more career or technology oriented classes.
  • 85% of college seniors plan to move home after graduation.
  • According to a recent survey of local employers, the mantra, “College for all” might need to be amended to read, “Skills for all.”

No one denies the value of a college education, but in today’s marketplace graduates need more than a diploma to secure a job that will enable them to be self sufficient. Unlike other countries, the higher education system in the United States does not do a particularly good job of linking postsecondary education to the needs of the labor market.

The National Association of Manufacturing Managers conducted a national survey of hiring authorities. It revealed a large gap between the skills employers need and the skills job applicants bring to the table. Lincoln Technical Academy conducted a survey of local employers who reported similar skill deficits.

With all those jobless and underemployed college graduates out there, you might wonder “How can you give your child the competitive advantage?” Well, according to a number of studies, including one conducted in 2011 by Harvard Graduate School, “Pathways to Prosperity,” the answer lies in associate degrees or occupational certifications. In fact, according to the Harvard study, 27 percent of people with post-secondary licenses or certificates -credentials short of an associate’s degree-earn more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient.

The Harvard study questions a lot of assumptions regarding “college for all.” What’s clear in all the data, however, is that giving your child a head start in skill attainment can help separate him or her from the competition when s/he enters the labor force. Your local high school’s career and technical education courses are an excellent first step in giving your child a leg up on the competition.

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Contact Information

Stephanie Hiatt

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