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College, Texas-Style

The world is full of bachelors but associates are harder to find. Texas recognizes the problem and is working to get it students to work learning job-related skills at two-year community colleges. It’s about time. According to the NYT, “the state’s population of skilled laborers is aging and approaching retirement, and there are a dearth of recent graduates with two-year vocational degrees who can take on the jobs.”

Boomers used to say to their children that they would have to go to college unless they wanted to “flip burgers” but now a lot of people with 4-year degrees are flipping burgers anyway. It’s about time that state education systems began connecting college degrees with job skills. Community colleges are the right place for this.  Texas manufacturing firms are interested and one has given Brazosport College $1 million to create a facility which teaches skills relevant to their business.

For too long, lawmakers have assumed that the most education is the best education, but sometimes less is more.  A better match of training to available jobs, and more work to train people effectively in useful skills at a lower cost in time and money is what Americans need now.

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  • BillH

    When I went to Geo. Washington HS on the westside of Indianapolis, 1945-1949, about half the grads had specialized in a trade. About ½ the classroom space was devoted to some trade, e.g. plumbing, carpentry, electrical, office skills, sewing, cooking…. There must have been a dozen of them. Students who focused on a trade early on went to work as an apprentice or trainee right out of high school. I don’t think junior colleges had been invented at that time.

  • Will

    Apprenticing seems a better path than paying for a post-high school degree. Maybe if secondary schoold did better in tracking and providing usuful alternatives to a college prep curriculum, graduates would not need to invest in another credential or training.

  • Luke Lea

    And maybe work these programs down into the high schools.

  • Jim.

    My vote is for apprenticing, too. Our society has gotten far too focused on big-box, big-classroom teaching, (not to mention over-docmentation of process in the business world) and people who do not learn well by those means are getting left behind. Wasted, basically, when a different learning approach would make them productive citizens.

  • jetty

    Bring back primary and secondary education. Allow kids to move into vocational training after primary school. Dissolve the grouping of kids by age, and instead make it meritorious. A kid doesn’t advance to the next level until he masters the current level (by subject). Bring back reform schools so the undisciplined won’t disrupt and drain resources but can also learn, albeit in a much more strict environment. Dis-ban the teacher’s unions, shut down the DoE and let local municipalities find solutions to the pathetic American educational system.

  • RedWell

    A PR campaign to break the stigma of vocational training would be helpful, as well.

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