A rare sign of sanity in higher education: students are doing an end run on the ‘time served’ model of degree attainment at colleges, and instead are attending university in order to pick up only the skills they need. The Hetchinger Report:
Skill builders in California are concentrated in construction, real estate, computers, law enforcement, and early childhood education, according to Kathy Booth, co-author of the study [of the California Community College System]. For most of them, the college credits led to wage increases. Students who took courses in information technology, for instance, saw their pay increase by 5 percent, and skill builders at California community colleges overall saw their median salaries go up from $49,800 in 2008-09 to $54,600 in 2011-12, the system reports. […]“The workforce is changing so dramatically and the economy is changing so dramatically that people need to keep going back to school to get the skills they need to stay employed or seek new employment,” Booth said.
Schools are responding to these students by creating specialized programs, including short-term programs to help the unemployed return to the workforce with updated skills. Some colleges may even offer certificates, though the skills learned will probably be more valuable than the credential.
Of course, some of these skill seekers already have a degree, and are either supplementing their skill set or trying to correct a poor decision to seek an esoteric degree as an undergraduate.
Nevertheless, it’s a start—towards both a saner model of education and a more flexible workforce that can better roll with the punches that a post-blue economy is likely to keep throwing their way. We hope this becomes a much more mainstream option for students, and is also recognized by employers as an equivalent or superior marker of qualification for a prospective employee. More please, and faster!