More Options for More People

Times article today focuses on what I really want to study.

Take a look.

None of this is to suggest that higher education is not desirable: I’ve encouraged my own children to take that path. But while we celebrate the most recent crop of college graduates, we should also acknowledge the many more Americans who will never don a cap and gown. They, too, deserve the chance to prove themselves worthy of good work, and a good life.

Now, every commentator out there will say, “well, they should just learn a trade and become an electrician!” I have no qualms with trades, though I’m a bit wary of their continued prominence as technology advances.

However, the advice for adults without degrees basically boils down to:

  1. Get a degree
  2. Trades!
  3. Struggle and suffer

There must be another choice. The article mentions that, of course, many jobs that can reasonably be completed by those without degrees still require them for all applicants, which is an issue as well, but not one I feel qualified to fight against as I’ve got little experience hiring line staff. But that still leaves the same issue.

Some will say, “This is why we need union jobs to return.” I don’t disagree (but I also don’t find it likely). These jobs were a major source of support for relatively disadvantaged groups, including many relatives of mine, and they are also the workers I currently teach. But what, in my opinion, is needed, is a way for people without degrees to have a chance to access professional careers in some fashion. I don’t find it likely they will suddenly become doctors or lawyers without those sort of professional licenses, but if one proves they can handle the material, why can’t someone code? (Just an example.)

I have no solutions, only thoughts, and my main thought, one I want to explore in depth over the next several years, is how to get this majority of American adults – an even larger share of disadvantaged groups, as well – to have a shot at the same highway we degree-holders almost take for granted.