- Understand that college is not the only pathway to success; career-readiness can come from four-year universities, associate or community colleges, or vocational training.
- Improve the K-12 system through competition, innovation, and school choice.
- Create regulatory space for educational programs that focus on the future employment needs of industries through education savings accounts.
- Encourage vocational education programs in the K-12 system and beyond.
- Encourage apprenticeship and certification programs that allow people to learn new trades in a real-world setting.
American businesses are increasingly worried about the quality of the workforce pool from which they will be hiring. Too few American students are graduating high school or college with the skills employers need. And while college is a pathway to career success for many students, it’s far from the only one.
The first link of the problem is, of course, the K-12 system, which all-too-frequently graduates barely-literate students totally unprepared for almost any job. Good vocational education options, which teach students a skill or trade to support themselves after school, are few and far between. The formal public education system has largely supplanted a historical network of apprenticeships, where those just starting out could learn a trade in exchange for work.
But exciting innovations on the horizon could revolutionize the way employers and students alike think about education, career-readiness, and vocational training.
Education savings accounts, which currently operate in five states and allow parents to choose and customize their children’s educational experiences down to the course level, provide an opportunity for businesses to shape or endorse curriculum, training, and certification options that teach the skills they look for in potential employees.
Legislators and regulators should avoid the siren song of “universal” college attendance, and instead work towards an education system that prepares students for successful career paths as varied as they are.
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