New study: vocational training graduates more likely to be employed

College students puking in toilet
College students puking in toilet

The Stream reports on a new study of interest to young people who want to maximize the revenue from their future job, while minimizing the cost of their higher education.

Excerpt:

Conventional wisdom says that students need a four-year degree to make it in today’s economy. But do the numbers back that up?

According to a new study released by the Department of Education, students who pursue an occupational credential (an education that is career-centered) are more likely to be employed than those who get an academic credential.

[…]The study uses data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS), which tracked students who had enrolled in college for the first time.

Researchers surveyed students starting in 2003 and tracked their progress through 2009. By the end of that six-year period, the study found that a greater proportion of students who earned an occupational credential were employed.

Additionally, 74 percent of those employed students with an occupational credential were in jobs related to their field of study, compared to just 53 percent of employed students who earned an academic credential.

These data illustrate the need for change in the way policymakers think about higher education. With college tuition at an all-time high and with over 3.6 million students defaulting on their student loans, students need alternative options for upward mobility now more than ever.

The author Mary Clare Reim notes:

This suggests that recent efforts to encourage more individuals to pursue college (President Barack Obama said that all Americans should have at least some postsecondary education) may be misguided. The data also suggest that the administration’s antagonism toward more career-focused educational tracks — often provided by for-profit trade schools and community colleges — is misplaced.

On this career guide web site, I found the top 10 trades and technical careers ranked by median annual salary.

  1. Elevator Installers and Repairers $70,910
  2. Electrical and Electronics Repairers $65,230
  3. Boilermakers $54,640
  4. Construction and Building Inspectors $52,360
  5. Electricians $48,250
  6. Pile-Driver Operators $47,860
  7. Brickmasons and Blockmasons $46,930
  8. Plumbers $46,660
  9. Structural Iron and Steel Workers $44,540
  10. Sheet Metal Workers $41,710

Of course those are the median salaries, if you are clever and hard working, you can make much more.

Consider this story from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Justin Friend ’s parents have doctoral degrees and have worked as university lecturers and researchers. So Mr. Friend might have been expected to head for a university after graduating from high school in Bryan, Texas, five years ago.

Instead, he attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, and received a two-year degree in welding. In 2013, his first full year as a welder, his income was about $130,000, more than triple the average annual wages for welders in the U.S. In 2014, Mr. Friend’s income rose to about $140,000.

[…]Mr. Friend, who is single, typically works 72 hours a week, usually including at least one day of the weekend, often on an overnight shift. His base pay is more than $25 an hour, up from about $22 when he started in 2012. He gets overtime after 40 hours a week. Pay is doubled on Sundays and tripled on holidays. He receives health insurance, a 401k retirement plan and paid vacation.

With little free time, expenses are low. He rents a one-bedroom apartment for $1,080 a month in a building with a pool and gym. To stay in shape for mountain-climbing trips, he sometimes runs up and down steps wearing a weighted backpack.

[…]The long hours mean “it’s hard to have a life,” Mr. Friend said. Eventually, he said he may pursue an advanced degree in metallurgy and research welding materials and techniques. For now, he’s building up his savings.

He’s debt-free, and probably didn’t even need student loans for this program. You couldn’t say that about most college students these days – and the ones in non-STEM fields will never be able to pay their loans back. What causes people to go into programs that don’t produce a return on investment? I think I know why. I think that many Americans have the idea that life should be about personal fulfillment, and not about doing things that don’t feel right to them. Hard work doesn’t “feel” right to many young Americans. They want work to make them famous, and to make them happy. Well, work isn’t supposed to be like that. Work is about making money, and very often the most difficult degrees and jobs are the least fame-making, and the least happiness-inducing.

Indoctrinate U

So why do people go to university and college to study non-STEM, non-trade, disciplines that produce lower employment and lower salaries?

I think that the Democrat Party has an interest in running up the national debt to $20 trillion in order to make college indoctrination cheaper, but as the debt grows, it gets harder and harder to provide public sector adult day care jobs to all the students who have no marketable skills. Government makes it easy for lazy students to spend 4 years drinking and having promiscuous sex at taxpayer expense. The combination of an immoral lifestyle with indoctrination and high student loans is usually enough to make a Democrat for life – or at least until the little brainwashed drones start to pay taxes (if ever).

Here is a quote from progressive president Woodrow Wilson about the purpose of higher education:

The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.

That’s the real purpose of non-STEM degrees – to make a Democrat voter, and not to make a worker who can earn money and be independent of government programs. If all you have learned to do in college is roll your eyes like a jaded reptile and complain about “sexism” and “racism”, then you’re only qualified to sit in a safe space, not to provide a customer with anything of value. Welfare programs and government jobs (but I repeat myself) work while there is money to borrow, but when the debt hits a certain level, reality rises back to the surface.

3 thoughts on “New study: vocational training graduates more likely to be employed”

  1. If you have an interest in something that doesn’t lead to productive employment (that a business would pay you for or that improves the quality of life for your family at home), that interest is a hobby and can be pursued via extensive use of a library. I have a degree in chemistry (employable), I keep the home for my family (which my husband and I chose to be the best decision for our family instead of continuing to be paid for chemistry), and I have an interest in Tudor period history reading history and biography from libraries. Because I had read enough on it, I was able to converse with the president of my undergraduate college at an academic awards dinner (he studied Tudor England for his dissertation) – he said it was the most enjoyable of these award dinners that he could remember.

  2. A blanket approach that college is bad while vocational education is good is unwise. It is difficult to get most white collar well paying jobs without a university degree, so for most people it does pay off. Because the supply of graduates has increased (due to government policy) while the white collar job market has shrunk (due to computerisation & offshoring), those who don’t get economic benefits from university are hit much harder, especially as tuition has far outstripped inflation. While vocational education is often good, plenty of STEM fields are as vulnerable to the winds of economic fortune as white collar office work; look at the oil industry or most of the trades relating to house building. It is often difficult for outsiders to know the market conditions in a given industry, so individually tailored advice from a knowlegable insider is often much better than generalisations.

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