Why Johnny Can’t Find a Job

September 25, 2014 Tagged with: education, economics

This video was shown at a Rotary lunch by the president of the local technical school. It lays out a solid (and entertaining) case that college isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t go “just to go.”

Rather, you should find something that (1) you like doing, and that (2) has a good income potential, whatever that might be, and free yourself from limiting expectations of “success” (which is usually, did you go to college?).

Another point, which I think is absolutely crucial: sending everyone to college doesn’t automatically create jobs for them. If we doubled the number of college graduates tomorrow, we wouldn’t magically have jobs for them all. We’d just have a bunch of under-employed college graduates, and we’d still have trouble finding a good electrician.

I loved the 1:2:7 ratio – for every one job requiring an advanced degree (doctor, lawyer, etc.), there are two jobs which require a bachelors, and seven jobs which require neither.  This ratio will not magically change just because we have a glut of college graduates. After the video, the technical school president said the South Dakota ratio was actually 1:3:6, which is similar.

It’s a long-ish video (9+ minutes), but the first three minutes alone are worth every second.

The video also introduced me to a new term: “gray collar jobs,” which either means jobs that require a certificate or associates degree (but not a bachelors), or person who is over-educated for the job they’re in (so, a bachelors degree holder in one those jobs).

I do worry about the lack of overall breadth in technical education.  I believe in liberal arts, and I worry that technical school students have tunnel vision – they know how to do a job, but don’t have larger education around things like history and culture. But I’ll concede that this might be me being elitist, and I shouldn’t try to make those decisions for someone else.


cmadler says:

Like you, I’m worried about the lack of breadth in technical education (and like you, I’ll acknowledge that the concern may be elitist), but more than that, I’m concerned about the extent to which many bachelors degree programs are really four-year technical degrees, with little or no liberal arts component.

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