In recent years, more prospective college students have been turning away from four-year universities and instead have opted to pursue paid apprenticeships. This makes sense when considering the cost of a college education has far-outpaced inflation for decades, leading many young men and women to take on significant debt from student loans.
When weighing their options, many teenagers have found that being paid to learn valuable skills in an apprenticeship without going into debt. The Wall Street Journal reported on one student considering an apprenticeship, “The college route meant at the end of four years the 22-year-old would have a degree, a little debt and no work experience. The apprenticeship would leave her with a two-year degree, money in the bank and training in a profession that appealed to her.” Traditionally, most apprenticeships have been in blue-collar, trade-based industries. However, in recent years, many white-collar industries, such as banking, IT, and cybersecurity, have expanded their apprenticeship offerings. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Today, colleges and universities enroll about 15 million undergraduate students, while companies employ about 800,000 apprentices. In the past decade, college enrollment has declined by about 15%, while the number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%, according to federal data and Robert Lerman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute and co-founder of Apprenticeships for America.
Apprenticeship programs are increasing in both number and variety. About 40% are now outside of construction trades, where most have traditionally been, Dr. Lerman said. Programs are expanding into white-collar industries such as banking, cybersecurity and consulting at companies including McDonald’s Corp., Accenture PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Furthermore, many employers are finding that prospective employees with college degrees don’t have the fine-tuned skills these companies are looking for. Therefore, a significant amount of training is required for young employees to be equipped for the job. The Wall Street Journal continued:
The gap between the number of students going to college and those selecting apprenticeships is closing as many employers are struggling to find workers in the tightest job market in half a century. Meanwhile, more students say they are wary of enrolling in college for fear it will leave them in debt and holding a degree that hasn’t prepared them for a good job in a fast-changing labor market.
As a result, some employers say a mismatch has developed between the skills employers are seeking and the lessons students are learning in college and university courses. To address the mismatch, companies are dropping requirements for degrees for some jobs, and states are rebuilding the vocational-education pathways that were de-emphasized two generations ago when the nation adopted a college-preparatory path for nearly all students.
Earning a college degree isn’t the same as it used to be 50 years ago. The mentality that everyone must go to college has diluted the value of an undergraduate degree, and the costs have sky-rocketed to exorbitant levels. The same can be said for many graduate school programs as well. College students in the present day are obtaining less marketable degrees at costs many times higher than what it would’ve been in past generations Furthermore, for conservative leaning students and parents, it doesn’t make sense to pay for an education that many feel is nothing more than leftist indoctrination.
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