- Even while more Americans are enrolling in four-year colleges, nations like Finland and Denmark send fewer kids to their equivalents of a university yet have greater rates of economic mobility than the US.
- According to Peter Blair of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the American economy needs to take advantage of “STARs”‘ brilliance.
- The upward mobility ladder in America may have some of the missing rungs filled in if more children were able to stay in school.
Gary Jones works his way toward his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) by travelling from eight in the morning until about four in the afternoon. On this particular afternoon, he drove a semi-truck on the foggy roads linking Starkville, West Point, and Columbus, Mississippi.
Jones: “I owed it to my mother since she kept bugging me about going to school, obtaining my GED, and trying to do the right thing.” He might anticipate a starting salary of roughly $60,000 after he has his trucking licence. However, for many Americans who don’t have the resources and knowledge Jones did, it may seem nearly impossible.
Identifying the Issue
In the 1940s, a child’s chances of attending a four-year college were around 8%, but he had a 90% probability of outpacing his parents’ income as an adult. Only one-third of Americans now think that today’s youth will outlive their parents in terms of wealth.
Even while more Americans are enrolling in four-year colleges, nations like Finland and Denmark send fewer kids to their equivalents of a university yet have greater rates of economic mobility than the US. Only 48 per cent of high school students reported their intention to enrol in a four-year college as of last year, and only 16 per cent of Americans think that a bachelor’s degree adequately qualifies graduates for a solid job in the current market.
Thirteen hundred miles away from the EMCC facility where Jones manages 18-wheelers, members of the newly formed Project on Workforce are working together in Cambridge to address the issue of upward mobility in America.
It is a collaborative project between the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), the Graduate School of Education (HGSE), and the Harvard Business School (HBS). Its goal is to research, develop, and scale up postsecondary pathways that go beyond the conventional four-year college route and help more Americans find good jobs.
To do this, the initiative combines management, public policy, and educational experience to provide a thorough understanding of the workforce’s difficulties as well as potential solutions.
They believed that the American educational system was failing to provide students with the skills that businesses were looking for, which resulted in unemployment and pay stagnation.
The initiative is grounded in impact research. The team is accumulating knowledge regarding the present pathways in America from school to employment, paying special attention to low- and middle-wage people and what might be done to make these transitions easier.
However, the objective is to put this study into practice by working with regional and national organisations to increase the number of employment opportunities for employees, regardless of their degree level.
They collaborated with 25 public and nonprofit groups, including the network of public employment centres in Massachusetts, in response to the epidemic to create SkillBase, a collection of free online courses for job seekers in areas including resumé writing and English for business communication.
According to its mission statement, the project seeks to “map the road for a postsecondary system of the future that generates more and better pathways to economic mobility” by paying greater attention to options outside the traditional four-year college.
According to John Fuller of the American Enterprise Institute, results are only as good as the system that produced them. Only a small portion of the abilities they’ll need to succeed in the industry are introduced to pupils during their K–12 schoolings. Only 40% of high school graduates enrol in four-year colleges, compared to 26% of black students, 19% of Hispanic students, and 11% of the poorest students in the country.
The Higher Education Act of 1965’s Title IV provides an overview of education through the perspective of four-year colleges. According to Fuller, the minority of Americans who attended college promote a narrative that can unintentionally convey to the majority that they are losers.
According to Peter Blair of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the American economy needs to take advantage of “STARs”‘ brilliance. According to him, 30 million American employees who have not completed a four-year college degree can transition into positions that pay an average of 70% more than their present salaries.
The Project on Workforce participants advises giving community institutions more emphasis as America seeks to improve job outcomes. If you deviate from the four-year college path in America, that has been an issue, according to Lipson. One of the most pervasive sources of economic mobility in the nation is community colleges.
Community Centers Across America.
Since community colleges are colleges for a particular community, they have an edge over standard four-year universities. They are in a good position to arrange job placements and educational possibilities with nearby firms since they are community centres.
The typical community college student is in her mid-20s, low income, employed while attending school, and maybe caring for a dependent. Community colleges give these folks the education and job-related training they need to be prepared for upward mobility.
Their grounds are used for recreation, and local political candidates may debate there. They are the only location where a student may receive an associate’s degree to prepare for a four-year university and a working learner can swiftly become certified in a desirable skill.
The epidemic caused a 15% decline in community college enrollment nationwide. Community colleges would lose money if they lost students. Even when funding is available, grant requirements make it challenging to use the money where it is most required.
In order to bridge the gaps not otherwise covered by public or another financing, 2nd Chance “partners with community colleges.” When courses had to be held remotely due to the pandemic, they supplied a collection of computers and gave students money for gas and child care.
Since its inception, 2nd Chance has assisted 1,350 Mississippians in continuing their education. The upward mobility ladder in America may have some of the missing rungs filled in if more children were able to stay in school.
Community colleges do the majority of the job in educating many low- and middle-class Americans. There is nothing alluring about adult workforce education, according to Terri Clark, former dean of workforce and community development at Pearl River Community College.