The news today wasn’t good for the 35,000 students expecting to start with ITT Technical Institute this month. And the news is worse for the 8,000 employees who will now be looking for work as the trade education provider announced they were closing all of the 130 campus locations across 38 states.
It got me thinking today on the radio that there’s a culture in our nation and in our education system that drives every student toward college. That culture is misguided and detrimental to an entire generation of young people getting to the age where they have major life decisions to make. Around 70% of college students take on debt in order to pursue their higher education. As many as 1 in 5 graduate with more than $50,000 in debt with nearly a third of those with debt in excess of $100,000.
With so many people hating their jobs or feeling stuck in a corporate environment why the push to take on massive debt for a degree that will not necessarily have any return on the investment? I spoke at length this morning about our AC guy, Joey Pallone. Joey is there when you need him. Even showing up at our house at midnight to fix our AC during a heat wave a couple years ago. I’m sure he didn’t want to have to come out that night, but the bottom line is he makes great money AND loves his job. How many indebted college grads can say that today?
The world needs more people in the trades. HVAC, electricians, builders, plumbers are all critical to our modern society. And there are professional licenses like real estate and insurance that can afford a person a lucrative career without the professional delay of fours years in college and the debt that most likely comes with the degree.
What’s interesting is that there is a very high demand for what is now called Career and Technical Education (CTE)… VoTech is old school I guess. A report came out in Philadelphia that among 35,000 high school students, 11,000 wanted to get into a CTE program but the system could only accept 2500.
It’s time for Americans to recognize the value in trade education. Stop pushing college and debt on everyone. Enough of the politicians pandering to higher education to subsidize more and take more money from middle class families to pay for it. Listen to the clear demand that is raging among high schoolers and reallocate local and national resources to true career advancement and technical training. Stop comparing our students with math and science scores to Asian and European countries. We’re the capital of entrepreneurship and innovation. Let’s get more young Americans trained for the skills that are critical to keep our economy and our living standard at the level we are striving to achieve.