Commentary: Path to apprenticeships now starts at high school

“With the state of our thriving local economy, low unemployment rates, and an upcoming retirement wave, one of the most significant challenges we face as a county and region is a shortage in the workforce. As a Snohomish County Council member, I hear about this need from nearly every employer I speak with, from aerospace to maritime to the construction industry. In particular, there is a need for skilled labor. Given our education system’s focus on pathways leading toward four-year universities, it should be no surprise that we now face this major workforce shortage. A four-year university education can be valuable for some, but many could benefit from greater access to pathways into the trades. While many college graduates now work minimum wage jobs and are burdened with student debt, high-paying trades jobs with competitive benefits sit empty.”

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How student loans are ruining American higher education

Student loans are a flashpoint in American higher education culture, particularly as more and more young people borrow higher and higher amounts of money, going deeper into debt for degrees that are worth less and less each year. As Rebecca Jude and Chauncey DePree put it at The Federalist, this massive influx of cash is “destroying higher education” in America. As the two note, a college education was long considered a necessity for anyone looking to avoid poverty. Yet these days, they say, higher education is awash in “an effectively unlimited supply of cash,” one that schools can “squander without any requirement to improve.”

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Importance Of College Drops Nearly 50% Among Young Adults In Just Six Years

“If you weren’t already worried about U.S. higher education, you should be now. When asked how important a college education is today, 41% of U.S. adults aged 18-29 say “very important,” which is down a whopping 45% since 2013 when 74% said the same. These new Gallup findings point to a potential disaster—looming on the very near horizon—for higher education, our country and in particular, our youth. But instead of perseverating over the very bad news here, let’s break down the two biggest problems behind this drop and highlight some opportunities to address them.”

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Modern Alternatives to the Traditional College Education

“While a four-year college education is generally considered the best preparation for a career and foundation for higher education, there are many other viable options when it comes to gaining skills and increasing your knowledge base. Community colleges, online programs, trade schools, and specialized course programs like MasterClass can help anyone explore their educational options.”

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Can Behavioral Science Help College Students With Children Graduate?

“Without a doubt, college degrees remain key to economic mobility and well-being in the U.S. Getting a college degree opens up new career possibilities and helps people earn more income over their lifetimes. Yet far too many aspiring graduates never obtain the degrees they are seeking, which leaves them without the benefit of the degree but often holding student debt. Making it to graduation day is challenging for many students, but it is especially difficult—and especially important—for students who care for dependent children.”

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‘Employer U’ Is Here, And It’s Here To Stay

“This past week gave us perhaps the most significant flurry of game-changing news for the worlds of higher education and talent development. Announcements of an innovative new partnership between ASU and State Farm, United Airlines acquiring a flight training school, and University of North Texas launching a new MBA program with the Dallas Cowboys give us a clear glimpse into the future of work and education. As I’ve long argued, we are headed for a merger of the two and it will materialize in various forms of employer-designed, -driven, or –operated models that draw tighter connections between learning and working. “Employer U” is here and it’s here to stay!”

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Bill Would Let College Savers Pay For Apprenticeship Programs, Student Loans

“The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019) just got attached to the year-end spending bill. While most of the news chatter is around its retirement provisions, the SECURE Act will also make major enhancements to 529 plans that could impact hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

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Partnership of the Year: Grid Alternatives

“Kanyon Martinez, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, was about to graduate from Bishop Union High School in Bishop, California, last year when he heard about an internship possibility with Grid Alternatives — a nonprofit organization that brings solar installations to low-income communities, including tribes. Martinez was glad for the chance to gain some work experience, but now that opportunity has grown into much more. First, he participated in Solar Futures, Grid Alternatives’ five-hour educational program, which teaches K-12 and community college students about the solar industry and gives them some basic skills related to installation.”

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How Apprenticeships Can Help Retrain Workers

“An ongoing theme in discussions about the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the worry that artificial intelligence will eliminate the need for human workers. Although AI will have the ability to complete some menial tasks, there is no real replacement for human intelligence. Still, technology will inevitably play a vital role in the future of work, so it is important to properly train humans for positions being offered in the next few years.”

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