Continuing Education, Cost of Education, Domestic, Education Quality, High school / Secondary 2, Opinion, Private education, Public education, Required, Students, Unemployment, University & College - Written by Wired Academic on Thursday, December 1, 2011 7:00 - 0 Comments
Opinion Heard: NPR’s Adam Davidson Laments Degree Devaluation
Here is a well-written essay from the New York Timesthis past weekend by Adam Davidson, who founded NPR’s Planet Money podcast, blog and radio series. He laments the “The Dwindling Power of a College Degree.” Do you agree or disagree with his assessment of the future and plight of the American student and the American middle class?
One of the greatest changes is that a college degree is no longer the guarantor of a middle-class existence. Until the early 1970s, less than 11 percent of the adult population graduated from college, and most of them could get a decent job. Today nearly a third have college degrees, and a higher percentage of them graduated from nonelite schools. A bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability. To get a good job, you have to have some special skill — charm, by the way, counts — that employers value. But there’s also a pretty good chance that by some point in the next few years, your boss will find that some new technology or some worker overseas can replace you.
Though it’s no guarantee, a B.A. or some kind of technical training is at least a prerequisite for a decent salary. It’s hard to see any great future for high-school dropouts or high-school graduates with no technical skills. They most often get jobs that require little judgment and minimal training, like stocking shelves, cooking burgers and cleaning offices. Employers generally see these unskilled workers as commodities — one is as good as any other — and thus each worker has very little bargaining power, especially now that unions are weaker. There are about 40 million of these low-skilled people in our work force. They’re vying for jobs that are likely to earn near the minimum wage with few or no benefits, and they have a high chance of being laid off many times in a career.
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