A College Degree No Longer a Guarantee

| 7/28/2014 9:37:00 AM

We finally witness a piece of legislation that makes it through Congress, which was not only agreed upon by both parties, but was also applauded by our president; and it might actually turn out to be effective. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is an amendment and re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which supported the nation’s primary programs and investments in employment services, workforce development, adult education and vocational rehabilitation activities. The new legislation is the product of a bipartisan, bicameral negotiation between the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and House Committee.

Bogged down by bureaucracy and innumerable, confusing programs, the previous federal job training system attempted to help individuals learn the skills needed to make themselves more viable on the job market, but it was clearly not working very well; every year $18 Billion tax dollars were spent on job-training programs, but only a fraction of the workers completing the training obtained jobs and barely 50% of the people who went through the federal job training programs completed with the actual skills they needed for the jobs they were seeking. Since 2003 attempts to reauthorize the legislation were undertaken in both the House and Senate, which culminated to an act which should help fix our broken job-training system.

The Job Crisis

High-Tech Manufacturing

Why is it broken, you may ask? Well, despite college enrollments increasing by 11% over the last decade, secondary education tuition costs have skyrocketed, landing the 2 million students who graduate every year an average $26,000 in debt. Federal loans now total $1.2 trillion, which is even higher than credit card debt. And each year, tuition prices sneak upwards.

So now we have massively indebted college graduates also desperately searching for a job along with the other 9.5 million Americans out of work. Currently the unemployment rate stands at 6.1% and more than 20 million Americans have been either out of work or underemployed since 2009.

However, we have 4.6 million job openings that are not being filled. In manufacturing alone, the backbone of middle-class opportunity, as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled. These “blue collar” jobs, now called “blue tech” jobs, can earn you $60,000 a year or more! From 2016 to 2002, job openings in manufacturing, production, installation, maintenance and repair are projected to outstrip the supply of available workers three-to-one. Despite all this incentive, the Wall Street Journal reports that 33% of small-business owners and chief executives could not find qualified applicants and therefore had unfilled job openings in June.

And the cause of the symptomatic unemployment and underemployment is found in the infamous skills gap. While these numbers may quantify the issue, they fail to capture the frustration of millions of Americans, many of them armed with multiple diplomas, failing to achieve that steady paycheck or make ends meet.

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