Economics

Again, a four-year, liberal arts degree is not for everyone

One of the many very good ideas embraced by former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was this one:

One effective and market-oriented solution is working closely with cutting-edge private sector employers to ensure that available technical and community college training is in line with those employers’ needs for future employees. Germany does very well in the context of matching vocational and two-year college type education to needs in the job market. Current estimates project that there are at least three million job openings in the U.S. unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers.

Bryan Caplan likes the idea, too:

It’s closer to the truth to say that a standard academic education prepares you for zero jobs. This is clearest for K-12 education in bad school districts, but also holds for most college majors. Even many majors that sound “vocational” prepare students for occupations with very few openings – see psychology and journalism. …

Apprenticeships would be far more common if government didn’t subsidize the competition to death. Imagine if we actually voucherized existing education spending and let students spend their vouchers to subsidize their own apprenticeships. I say apprenticeships would become common almost overnight. …

It makes a lot more sense to blame public opinion, which recoils in egalitarian horror at the idea of a “two-tier” system where bad students learn a trade and good students go to college. The end result, of course, is that bad students don’t learn a trade, don’t go to college, and – as Charles Murray reminds us – become bums and criminals at shocking rates.

3 thoughts on “Again, a four-year, liberal arts degree is not for everyone

  1. Expand your mind and expand your knowledge. There are still jobs out there. Go after a degree in the field of your choice and on demand. Find your field at High Speed Universities websites to know which are on demand and suitable for you.

  2. This begins in high school, where things like engine shop, woodworking, and other traditional male classes that actually held their interest, have been eliminated in the continuing feminization of the young male. Thye need to be introduced, and linked up with basic electronic controls (i.e. robots). Boys love these things. And they prepare students not just for life, but for a whole slew of careers.

    Won’t happen. Liberals don’t like independent men. The elimination of these types of classes is part of the effort to make men dependent upon the state, just as using feminist, birth control issues are used to help make women dependents….

  3. It depends on whether the “everyone” is expected to be engaged and informed participants in our collective self-governance. If we’re ready to cede policy making to highly educated elites, or if we’re ready for genuinely democratic, but really dumb policy, then, yes, a four-year liberal arts degree is not for everyone. But if we want a citizenry with even the slightest clue of what do do about immigration, health care, regulation or war, I’d suggest we get as many of them as we can a four-year liberal arts degree. The flaw in this blog, and so many like it these days, is assuming that education is all about jobs and the economy. Of course our society’s economic needs and the job prospects of college graduates are relevant to education policy. But to think that’s all that’s relavant is to dangerously undermine our democracy. So by all means, learn finish carpentry. (Hey, I’m an arborist with a PhD in philosophy!) But for the sake of our country’s well-being, learn some economics, some history, some ethics, some political science, and maybe even some literature.

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