You’re…Hired

Blacksmith and apprentice by Josef_K via Flickr

Anya Kamanetz’ Generation Debt today discusses the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. For obvious reasons, the government should not meddle in this issue. Let the free market sort it out.

And here’s how the market is going to sort it out. I was beating this drum in 2005 and I’ll do it again. The problem is a vast majority of people don’t need all the education for which they’re paying. They would be much better served with some sort of finishing school – stressing communication skills, writing and speaking – coupled with some form of an apprenticeship. The finishing school would run concurrent to the apprenticeship so the student could put the skills learned to work in an actual business environment – immersion learning.  This may exist in some form at the community college level.  But this has to be divorced from that, a stand alone program focused on narrow educational goals (communication skills) that emphasizes the real world application of those skills.

Clearly I’m not talking about professions that require advanced learning or skills – engineers, vascular surgeons etc. No, I’m talking about the vast majority of people that simply do the day to day work the runs most businesses. But you say, why would one shoot so low? Well, based on the numbers it appears a lot of people are ending up at that outcome anyway. So let’s just deal with the facts. And the way the world economy is going it’s going to get even tougher. It’s all a numbers game. Everybody can’t earn the big money.

So how do you stack the financial deck in your favor, assuming you’re not going for a degree in some advance science? Go the finishing school/apprenticeship route. You’ll start working/earning sooner and you’ll have much less or no debt. Further, you’ll learn about business from your practical, real world experiences that can form your educational springboard to climbing the ladder at your company, leaving for better opportunities, or leaving to start your own business.

The problem the market has to overcome is the stigma attached to someone without a college degree. The best way would be to disprove this notion. Partner with willing businesses and produce exceptional graduates. It will only take a handful of success stories for business to recognize they’re getting great talent from XYZ finishing/apprenticeship school. And more importantly, high school grads will sit up and take notice of another viable post grad educational/work route.

P.S. – I have to look into who funds those studies about the benefits of a college degree. I suspect it’s the colleges themselves. Maybe in cahoots with the student loan companies. Clearly they already have one cozy financial relationship.

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