- There is an increasing scramble among manufacturing companies and colleges to create workforce development programs which can address America’s growing middle-skills gap, the deficit of employees in jobs where education is required beyond a high school diploma, but typically needs less than a traditional bachelor’s degree.
- The New York Times profiles companies like John Deere and Siemens, which are addressing the issue with apprenticeships to give high school graduates four years of work experience and technical training at two-year schools, while allowing students to earn credentials without massive loan debt.
- Less than 2% of the nation’s traditional college-aged citizenry is enrolled in apprenticeship programs, despite investments from the Obama administration totaling more than $260 million and an 11% increase in programs over the last five years.
A major element of the workforce development issue is that children are not taught to grow up pursuing certain jobs which may be lucrative and offer training in schools outside of the four-year universe; they are instructed to want jobs which require four-year degrees, big debt and shrinking presence in geographical areas around the country.
Increasingly, colleges and universities are held accountable for shaping the career ideas of potential students earlier in the game by delivering information to parents about debt, high-demand fields and workforce partnerships that can yield career mobility. This way, campuses are shown to be good-faith partners in affordability outcomes, while working to reshape programs which fit regional industrial needs.