Skilled Trade Schools Michigan – High-paying business jobs are vacant, while high school graduates line up for university: creating a huge shortage in high-skilled occupations, which require less – and cheaper – training. Should it reconsider students’ four-year degrees?
Garrett Morgan (center) is training as an iron worker near Seattle and already has a job that pays him $50,000 a year. Hide caption Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report
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Garrett Morgan (center) is training as an iron worker near Seattle and already has a job that pays him $50,000 a year.
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Like other American high school students, Garrett Morgan had a constant drum beat into them: Go to college. Get a bachelor’s degree.
“My whole life it was like, ‘If you don’t go to college, you’re going to go down the street,'” Morgan said. “Everybody’s so dumb about going to college.”
So he tried for a while. He then began training as an iron worker in a nondescript high-ceilinged building with a concrete floor in an industrial park near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
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Morgan and several other men and women are dressed in work boots, hard hats and Carhartt suits, clipped into safety harnesses with heavy wrenches slung from their belts. They run out of time as they wrestle the 600-pound I-beam into place.
Seattle is a jungle of construction cranes, and employers are looking for skilled ironworkers. Morgan, 20, already works on job sites when Pacific Northwest Ironworkers isn’t in the shop. He gets pension and other benefits from the employer at the place of training. And he’s making $28.36 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year, which is almost certain to increase.
About 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year do not require a bachelor’s degree.
As for his friends from high school, “they’re still in college,” he said with a smile. “Someday maybe they’ll make as much as I do.”
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As labor shortages drive up wages in skilled trades, the financial returns from a bachelor’s degree are softening, even as the cost — and the average debt it sinks students into — continues to rise.
But high school graduates are so effectively encouraged to earn bachelor’s degrees that high-paying jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are in short supply. It affects those students and also threatens the economy.
“Parents want success for their kids,” said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. “They get stuck with [a four-year bachelor’s degree], and they don’t see a lack of tradesmen until they hire a plumber and write a check.”
Ironworkers practice tying rebar at the Ironworkers Local Union #86 administrative office in Tukwila, Wash. Hide caption Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report
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In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging as students almost universally lead to bachelor’s degrees.
Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including options requiring less than four years of college — begin as early as seventh grade.
Chris Courtins, co-author of the report, said there is an “emphasis on the four-year university track” in high schools. However, nationwide, three in 10 high school seniors who attend four-year public universities do not earn a degree within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At private four-year colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.
“Being more aware of other types of options may be what they need,” Courtins said. Despite the perception that “college is the only path for everybody,” he said, “the kind of salary you pay in apprenticeships and other career fields and the fact that you’re not paying four years of tuition and you’re paying again. You learn., this other path is really Needs some more thought.”
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“Parents want success for their kids. They’re stuck with [a four-year bachelor’s degree], and they don’t see a cut in the trades until they hire a plumber and write a check.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 70 percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding skilled workers; In Washington, the number is 80 percent.
Jobs like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe fitting already outnumber Washingtonians, according to a state auditor’s report. Many pay the state median annual wage of more than $54,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing will account for one-third of all new jobs by 2022, along with health care and personal care. Also need a new plumber and a new electrician. And, as politicians debate the massive construction of the nation’s roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that infrastructure-related jobs will grow 68 percent over the next five years. . .
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“The economy is definitely driving the issue,” said Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which educates students in these fields. “Not a day goes by that a business doesn’t contact the college and ask for faculty who are willing to work.”
According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, nearly 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year do not require a bachelor’s degree.
Yet the journey toward a bachelor’s degree continues. And because people who get them are employed and make more money than people who don’t, that premium looks softer; Their median income was lower in 2015 than in 2010 when adjusted for inflation.
“A bachelor’s degree is the notion of the American dream, the best bang for your buck,” said Kate Blossveren Kramer, deputy executive director of Advanced CTE, an association of state officials working in career and technical education. “The challenge is that in many cases it backfires. People go to college without a plan, without a career in mind, because the mindset in high school is just ‘go to college.'”
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Matthew Dickinson, 21, asks a classmate for help while rebuilding an automatic transmission in an auto repair technician program class at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Hide caption Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report
Finding work in business or manufacturing does not mean that no education is necessary after high school. Most regulators and employers require certificates, certifications, or associate degrees. But it costs less and takes less time than getting a bachelor’s degree. Tuition and fees for in-state students to attend a Washington state community or technical college, for example, comes to less than half the cost of a public four-year university, the state auditor says, and less than a tenth of that. Attend a private four-year college. price
According to a U.S. Department of Education report, people with career and technical education are also more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials and are more likely to work in their field of study.
Young people don’t seem to get that message. The number of high school students earning three or more credits in vocational education — usually an indication that they are interested in careers in the skilled trades — has fallen from 1 in 4 in 1990 to 1 in 5, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
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Washington isn’t the only state paying attention. California is spending $200 million to improve the delivery of career and technical education. Iowa community colleges and businesses are collaborating to increase the number of “work-related learning opportunities,” including apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships. Tennessee has made its technical colleges free.
Michigan’s shortage of workers in skilled trades is so severe that Gov. Rick Snyder announced a $100 million proposal in February that has been compared to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.
At the federal level, there is bipartisan support for providing Pell Grants for short-term job-training courses, not just university tuition. The Trump administration supports the idea.
For all the promises to improve vocational education, however, the main federal source of money for it, called Tech-Prep, has not been funded since 2011. A quarter of states cut their own funding for postsecondary career and technical education last year, according to the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education.
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Career and technical education advocates say money isn’t the only problem. An even bigger challenge is convincing parents that it leads to better jobs.
Darren Radford, 20, watches his instructor after completing a connector mockup drill at the Ironworkers Local Union #86 administrative office in Tukwila,
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