Sometimes it seems Mayor Bloomberg enjoys wading into testy debates just to see if he can prevail. This time around he told "so-so students" to go into trade schools for an economically sound career instead of an undergraduate education.
"The people who are going to have the biggest problem are college graduates who aren’t rocket scientists, if you will, not at the top of their class," he stated. His reasoning is that plumbers earn income without being loaded with debt therefore "for the average person, probably would be a better deal" than going to college. He continued that hard skills taught at trade schools are more difficult to be automated or "farm[ed] out."
He is hardly alone in this opinion and PolicyMic-ers especially have been discussing this issue often. Student debt is at record highs. Only 27% of college graduates work in a job requiring a college degree or related to their major. The millennial unemployment rate is a disturbing 16.2%.
If one is to continue with Bloomberg's reasoning, should we establish a threshold for academic performance that channels one set of students to a four-year degree and another to trade schools? Who would decide the threshold? How would it be measured?
What about those students who for various socioeconomic reasons were not able to figure out what they are good at or interested in during high school?
We should instead focus on ways to make technical skills and affordability of a college education the priority. Not every student needs go to a $40,000- a- year private college to get a viable education and a decent job. We could focus on improving our community colleges to improve the quality of education they offer to the nearly 40% of students that enroll every year. Even Walt Disney attended community college first.
While Bloomberg's intentions are earnest, pushing "so-so" students towards plumbing is a broad stroke that does not take many factors into account. We should instead be encouraging students to be equipped with both technical and intellectual skills that promote ingenuity and innovation, even as a plumber.
What do you think? Discuss with me below or on Twitter @shwetika.