Sobering data from the American Association of Community Colleges reveals over 70% of students who begin community college are not even achieving an associates degree after six years. A recent study released by National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) discovered that the high non-completion rate is rooted in student's lack of understanding of basic middle school arithmetic, ratio, proportion, expressions and simple equations, concepts which are prevalent in first year college math courses. The NCEE report concluded that "a very large fraction of high school graduates does not meet the very low expectations (mathematics, reading, and writing) that community colleges currently have of them."
The results of non-completion can sandbag young adults with unforgivable debt and no degree, leaving them floundering in low-skill jobs and still dependent on aging parents.
But there is a positive alternative to the "one-size-fits-all" approach to education and the notion that everyone should go to college. According to Tom Pauken, former chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, there is a significant demand for those skilled in the conventional and emerging trades, vocations which do not even require a two year degree and cannot be easily outsourced overseas. In his book, Bringing America Home, Pauken cites Charles Murray, author of Real Education,
"Finding a good carpenter, painter, electrician, plumber, glazier, mason-the list goes on-is difficult, and it is a seller's market. Journeymen craftsmen routinely make incomes in the top half of the income distribution while master craftsman can make six figures. They have work even in a soft economy. Their jobs cannot be outsourced to India. And the craftsman's job provides wonderful intrinsic rewards that come from mastery of a challenging skill that produces tangible results. How many white-collar jobs provide nearly as much satisfaction?"
According to Don Tracy, Director of Operations and Marketing for Continuing Education at Austin Community College, the workforce demand in the "middle-skill" trades and occupations dwarfs the demand for workers in the low-skill and high-skill markets. Certification programs for a large number of those middle-skill trades can be completed in two years or less, providing the young adult with a marketable, employable skill which can serve as a launch-pad for continuing education and further career success.
IDMyPlan empowers young men and women to take those first steps in assessing their personal strengths, interests, preferences and work styles in order to make better decisions about their work, training and education opportunities.
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