You finish high school and go to college to get a degree that will help you enter the workforce and make a positive contribution to the sector you choose to be a part of. It’s the way things are expected to happen, and there is a lot of pressure on young people to decide what career they want and to get into a good college to enable them to do so. But do employers overestimate the value of a college degree?
College isn’t practical for everyone
Attending a college is a privilege that isn’t financially available to everyone in America. Not only that, but the way of working that college requires is not something that suits everyone and can actually have a negative impact on a young person if they are forced to attend and learn in a way that does not best work for them. If a student has an immediate fiscal obligation, college is not the best option for their lifestyle, and so they need to find a way to enter the workforce and earn money almost immediately.
Are apprenticeships the answer?
Both the previous and current POTUS, despite their obvious differences in beliefs and policies, have invested money and resources into apprenticeships. These programs combine classroom-based learning and on-the-job training to allow students to learn as they earn, without the debt that comes with attending college. An impressive 87% of apprentices end up with jobs once their program has come to an end. So, for those who need to earn at the same time as developing skills, this is a more effective route than college.
Currently, the US offers apprenticeships in around 27 different occupations, based in trades such as construction or mining. However, there are almost 50 other areas that they can be developed in, for example, cookery, nuclear media technologists, billing and shipping clerks, and many more. Obviously, the more areas that apprenticeships are available in, the more opportunities that there will be for those without college degrees.
One issue with apprenticeships is the lack of employer buy-in. Companies are required to pay some costs up front to cover training, an apprentice salary and the processes required for identifying and interviewing candidates. In the long run, however, apprenticeship programs could minimize the number of failed hires as they would not be required to extend a full-time job offer until the program had finished which would be plenty of time to gauge the skills of a laborer. The salaries of an apprentice are also likely to be lower than an employee who’s a bachelor’s degree.
Skills and abilities
Frequently, a job position requires a college degree, less because of the college experience and more as a proxy for skills required for the job. However, these skills are not only attainable through gaining a college degree, and this is known as degree inflation. An apprentice can have these skills and abilities, and their turnover rate is generally lower than those with bachelor’s degrees. They also have lower expectations for their starting salaries, by about 11-30%, so it really is a win for employers.
Although there will still be roles that will require a college graduate, hopefully, this growing trend will encourage employers to offer apprenticeships and allow those for whom a college education is not the answer, the chance to get into a good job.