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Minnesota High Schools are tackling our state’s “skills gap” crisis head-on

Good news on Minnesota’s workforce development crisis: Innovative high schools are setting the stage for a revolution in career education. A recent Star Tribune article surveyed this burgeoning movement. “The race is on to help students more quickly figure out their interests and aptitudes and then get them trained,” according to the article. The Star Tribune highlighted Burnsville High School’s remarkable Pathways program, which it described as one of Minnesota’s most “comprehensive efforts to prepare students for the work world.” The program is funded by a $65 million voter-approved referendum, passed in 2015, and an annual technology levy of $2.5 million. According...

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CAREERCODE: A revolutionary new tool to overcome Minnesota’s “skills mismatch” challenge

A major factor in our state’s workforce development crisis is a mismatch between the skills workers have and those required by in-demand jobs. But there’s good news: A vocational exploration tool called CAREERCODE can help people at all stages find the occupation and career path best suited to their interests. ...

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Learning and Doing Math Vocationally

A frequent theme in the many interviews I’ve conducted over the last year, as well as in much of the reading I’ve done for American Experiment’s “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project, has been the importance of people in manufacturing, the trades, and other fields having a reasonably solid grounding in math. ...

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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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