Our Local College Bubble
Frankly, I don’t buy this:
Overall, the United States needs to increase the proportion of the population with a college education by 4.2 percent annually to meet the demands of an increasingly global economy, which will require 60 percent of the work force to have degrees by 2020, according to Jeffrey Stanley, associate vice president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers.
I’ve been running into too many carpenters with college degrees to give much face-value credence to the assertion that more workers with college degrees are necessary. It may be true if measured against employers’ demands, but to some extent, employers are only demanding degrees because it’s an easy way to narrow the candidate pool — in short, because they can.
General reading on the topic suggests that degree shortages are much more specific. The economy needs more people with specific, usually technical expertise, not college degrees in general, and the article above gives reason to think that advocates for local higher education are merely seeking to inflate their bubble. Consider:
Those rejected by private schools put increasing strain on the public colleges, officials said. About 70 percent of students entering the Community College of Rhode Island in fall 2010 have needed some kind of remedial work, according to Ray Di Pasquale, Commissioner of Higher Education and president of CCRI.
Students who require remedial education aren’t likely to be pursuing the sorts of degrees that lead to jobs for which a college experience is objectively necessary. What our society really needs is to improve elementary and secondary education (and social/familial circumstances that affect attitudes toward education) so that high school graduates are competent for most entry-level positions and pursue higher degrees because they’ve already got a sense of what they want to do with their lives.