Why Johnny Can’t Find a Job

By Deane Barker tags: 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.

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