Success in the New Economy by Kevin Fleming (Citrus College)
In the article, “The College Oversell Crisis” Lee Maxey, the CEO of MindMax, claims that many sectors of our U.S. economy today are overpitching receiving four-year degrees. The analytics software company, Burning Glass Technologies, discovered that 31 percent of postings for IT help desk roles required a bachelor’s degree. However, when comparing the skills necessary for positions requesting and not requesting a bachelor’s degree, the technical skills are the same.
Maxey expresses his aversion for this trend due to two reasons. First, he says, “[…] it devalues a postsecondary degree.” By this he means that the value of having either a four-year or two-year degree drops when employers require new hires to have these credentials, even though the worth of the credentials are beyond the needed skills to perform the job. His second reasoning is that, “[…] there is a needless barrier to entry for those with a high school diploma who are able to perform a job paying a living wage.” In other words, those with the skills needed to perform the job are not considered due to not having the degree and credentials that employers look for.
Though the U.S. Census Bureau shows that a two-year or four-year degree increases earning power, Maxey believes that these degrees are not the key of a pathway to happiness or self-worth. As tuition continues to rise, many individuals find themselves struggling trying to figure out where the money for college will come from. Likewise, others are even considering not even attending just to avoid the tremendous student debt in the end.
Maxey suggests that instead of viewing high school students as incapable we should, “[…] better understand their aptitudes and potential early on.” He agrees with Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, on the idea to make 10th grade the starting target to prepare students in both college and career readiness.
In fact, many employers such as IBM are beginning to take less importance into the degree level of their new hires and employees. As long as the employee has the aptitude, flexibility and need for success, having or not having a degree will not be a factor to attaining the position. Furthermore, Maxey explains that with the help of American corporations, educators can begin to teach high school students the necessary technical skills to join America’s middle class without having to get an expensive degree.