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Minnesota leads nation in good jobs that don’t need a four-year degree

Minnesota is one of the top states in the nation for good jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. That’s the finding of a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The report defines a good job as one that pays $35,000 or more annually, or $45,000 or more for workers age 45 or older. A wage of $35,000 amounts to about $17 an hour, viewed by many experts as a living wage. There are 30 million such jobs nationwide, but generally, candidates need more than a high school degree to get them. Almost half—45 percent—of ‘good’ Minnesota...

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Higher Education and Careers: Schumpeter’s Creative Construction

One of the virtues of writing a book is that an endnote in somebody else’s book leads you to track down a third book you should have read a long time ago.  Yes, I know I need to get out more often. The book I’m currently working on grew out of American experiment’s new, multi-year project, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good news for Students, Parents, and Employers.”  The second book in the sequence above is “From Shop Class to Soulcraft” by Matthew Crawford.  With the third book a classic written by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, “Capitalism, Socialism and...

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Minnesota foundations lead way in training needy citizens for in-demand jobs

Philanthropic organizations in Minnesota are devoting major efforts to training the state’s neediest citizens for in-demand jobs. A coalition of Twin Cities foundations called MSP Win is leading the way. “Training that leads to employment ‘is the best cure for many of society’s challenges’,” said Brian Lipschultz of the Otto Bremer Trust, which gave away $47 million in 2017,” according to the Star Tribune. The paper reported that MSP Win is analyzing job openings by area—health, construction, IT, for example—to better understand market demand. It’s bringing together employers, unions, and trainers to map out successful career paths. Ryan Ponthan of the North Central...

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When the Welders Came to Capitol Hill

America needs more welders, and recently a delegation of them went to Washington to tell policy-makers so. Congressman Tom Suozzi of New York wrote about their visit in the Wall Street Journal: I’m sitting in my Capitol Hill office a few weeks ago, meeting with three well-dressed, well-spoken young men who earn salaries in the high five and low six figures. You see the type a lot in Washington, but these guys are different. They’re not lobbyists. They don’t represent Wall Street or any Fortune 500 companies. They’re welders. Rep. Suozzi was impressed: America needs more of them and what they represent: good jobs...

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Does “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” Hint at Tracking?  Not in the Smallest Way

Usually, when my colleagues Kathy Kersten, John Hinderaker, or I write about Center of the American Experiment’s major project, Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree, we focus on soon-to-be high school graduates who may not be certain they want to seek a B.A. or B.S.  Or we focus on young people who may already have attended a four-year institution, but only for a spell, as things didn’t work out and they dropped out.  And who may now find themselves unemployed, or underemployed, and quite likely in debt.  In both instances, Kathy, John, and I talk about other excellent educational routes...

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The Importance of Listening Closely to Students and Recent Graduates in Technical Fields

A major topic at the first gathering (August 10) of the Advisory Council for “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” was a series of meetings my American Experiment colleagues and I hope to host for people in the multifaceted field.  It was an early conversation, and not just because it started at 7:30 a.m. A main gist of our discussion was that young people studying technical subjects, often in community colleges, as well as those who have been working in technical fields for several years, should be afforded more opportunities to share their stories on a regular basis with seasoned ladies...

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West Virginia leads the way in transforming high school CTE to boost the state’s economy

West Virginia has struggled for years with a declining economy, and an increasingly discouraged and disengaged high school population. Now the state is working to change that with an innovative new approach to Career and Technical Education, and the pay-off is inspiring, according to the New York Times: Long one of the poorest states, [West Virginia] is leading the way in turning vocational education from a Plan B for underachieving students into what policy makers hope will be a fuel source for the state’s economic revival. Simulated workplaces, overseen by teachers newly trained in important state industries like health, coal and even...

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Technical education can save parents from drowning in college debt

The move to broaden young people’s exposure to career paths beyond a four-year college degree just got a boost from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that the default rate in the federal government’s Parents Plus program now exceeds that on U.S. mortgages at the peak of the housing crisis. According to the article, headlined “Parents Are Drowning in College Loan Debt,” Millions of U.S. parents have taken out loans from the government to help their children pay for college. Now a crushing bill is coming due. Hundreds of thousands have tumbled into delinquency and default. In the process, many have delayed...

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CMMA is model for state’s manufacturers

When Les Engel and a handful of other St. Cloud-area manufacturers got together one morning in 2008 to strategize about their “talent pipeline” problem, they had no idea how many area businesses would show up. “We were expecting 25 people,” says Engel, CEO of Engel Metallurgical in St. Cloud. “We got 105.” That day, the Central Minnesota Manufacturing Association (CMMA) was born. “We came together because we wanted to have a voice—in the community, in the schools, in St. Paul—to influence things we believe need to be changed,” Engel explains. CMMA’s motto says it all: “Today, growth and innovation can rarely be...

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Great Work by an Intern on Her Summer Vacation

I had an exceptional intern this summer, Tori Roloff, who worked with me on two projects: American Experiment’s multi-year initiative, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree”; and a related book I’m writing, tentatively titled Educational Roads Less Taken: How America’s Fixation on Four-Year Degrees Limits Both Careers and Economic Growth.  Tori is a sophomore at the University of Virginia and an alumnus of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.  Rather than give her simple assignments such as looking up this or counting that, I asked her to research several complex issues, six in all, and then write a short essay about each...

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