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Skills Matter More Than Type of Degree

(Photo Credit: The Markle Foundation) A new report from Center of the American Experiment reveals that there’s “gold in a two-year degree.” The study found that young Minnesotans who choose a variety of non-four-year career pathways—in skilled manufacturing, health care, construction-related occupations, etc.—can often earn more in a lifetime than their peers with a four-year degree. Now a new study from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, D.C., confirms this is true across the nation. ...

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The Increasingly Powerful Role of Student Debt in Shaping Careers and Lives

I don’t need to be convinced that community colleges are vital, as I started off in one.  To be precise, it was an auxiliary program of a community college with the rhythmic name “City University College Center at New York City Community College.”  How I luckily wound up there is a story for another day. As for an important story today about the value of these two-year institutions, my sense is that many young people and their parents are looking more closely at them for a variety of good reasons, very much including how their students are likely to accrue much...

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Technically Speaking, What Might Minnesota Learn from Tennessee?

This is a blog about impressive things going on with technical education in Tennessee.  It’s the kind of blog which Minnesota leaders in education, business, and government are likely to respond, “Hey bub, wait a minute, we’re doing great things here, too.  Some even better.”  Which I trust is the case and hope they let me know about them, especially since I still have much to learn about what various sectors in Minnesota are doing in this critically important area. In working on American Experiment’s major project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree,” one of the big lessons my colleagues and...

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Apprenticeship Programs Leave Students Debt-Free & Work-Ready

Who knows the most about the word “apprentice?” Just ask President Trump. After signing an Executive Order (EO) in June calling for apprenticeship expansion, the president remarked on the initiative’s importance and his ability to see it through. “That’s why, in June, we began a historic initiative to expand apprenticeship and workforce training programs in all industries. We’re expanding pathways to success. So important. And apprenticeships are one of the many avenues that lead to the great jobs, completely debt-free. And who knows more about the word ‘apprentice’ than Donald Trump?" The EO, “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” will go towards learn-to-earn programs...

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Unfair History and Under-Enrollment in Non-Four-Year Programs

The Star Tribune had a good story on October 15 dealing with the kinds of issues American Experiment is addressing in our “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project.  Headlined, “In D.C., Efforts to Champion Alternatives to Four-Year Degrees Slow to Gain Traction,” the article, by Jim Spencer, lends itself to mostly reinforcing “He said/I said” exchanges. Spencer opened by noting how Burnsville H.S., last academic year, launched a “radically redesigned curriculum to try to plug Minnesota’s jobs skills gap.”  The school, he wrote, “has become a national model for states like Minnesota that face a disconnect between available employment and...

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Tune In to Hear Our New Great Jobs Radio Ad

Center of the American Experiment’s latest radio ad campaign highlights the struggles many young people face following high school graduation. In the 30 second advertisement, which is playing on over 70 stations across Greater Minnesota, a teenager expresses anxiety about his future. His friends have left for college, but he knows that is not the right path for him. The boy’s companion encourages him by explaining there are great jobs available—like working as a millwright—that don’t require a four-year degree or pile on massive college debt. Scenarios like this are happening across Minnesota. On GreatJobsMN.com you can learn about technical programs...

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Advice for employers in Greater Minnesota: A report from the front

Minnesota’s rural economy is gaining strength, reports MinnPost, with many businesses primed for growth. The challenge, of course, is finding the qualified workers necessary to make that growth happen. Southwestern Minnesota offers a “sneak peak at both the looming challenges and unique opportunities facing communities in Greater Minnesota,” according to the article, entitled “The future of Greater Minnesota’s economy is already here—and it looks a lot like Montevideo.” Innovative approaches range from busing in potential workers from the Twin Cities for a tour of businesses, to a “regional attraction plan” aimed at marketing the area to people who are thinking about moving...

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Students Learn What Manufacturing Is—And What It Isn’t

Minnesota’s manufacturing sector plays an important role in the state’s economic well-being. Yet attracting skilled workers to enter the manufacturing world has been challenging, despite numerous job openings. Misconceptions about the industry are sabotaging incentives for young workers to pursue great career opportunities in this field. But two companies just outside the Twin Cities area are determined to combat negative perceptions about manufacturing and change its overall image....

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Great two-year programs that often out-earn four-year college grads

It’s common wisdom in our society today that you must have a four-year college degree to get ahead in life. But a new Center of the American Experiment study concludes that Minnesotans who choose a two-year degree, apprenticeship or occupational certificate often do better financially than their peers with a four-year degree. The study—No Four-Year Degree Required: A Look at a Selection of In-Demand Careers in Minnesota—concludes that median lifetime earnings for machinists, radiologic technicians, plumbers, electric line installers and similar jobs exceed those of their counterparts with a four-year degree by up to 61 percent. The study addresses the “skills gap”...

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