Cynthia S. Schaedig: Young people should consider all options

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Published: 12-12-2023 6:01 AM

Modified: 12-12-2023 9:27 AM

A recent article addressed gaps in parents’ expectations for children’s future and the need for Massachusetts to make college more accessible to all. In the past, graduating from college has proven to be a strong indicator of financial success. But the idea that a college degree is a golden ticket to success might no longer be true.

Post-COVID, the work world has changed. Economy Magazine just published an article about recent college graduates. Michigan State University found that 60% of their recent bachelor level graduates had not secured a full-time job within six months of graduating. This unfortunate reality has repeated itself across the country. Of the 40% who were employed, many were underemployed. This has left many college graduates demoralized.

Considering the trades should be a viable alternative for students. We need plumbers and electricians. We need people to maintain our roads, keep the water flowing through our taps, and keep our power grid up and running.

There is strong demand for workers in areas of the economy that do not require a college degree. Apply to a union. They train people, and the students get paid while they are learning. The Laborers’ Union Training Academy in eastern Massachusetts looks like a college campus, except that the skills taught there are in the trades.

Or apply to a city Public Works Department. Most have multiple openings. These jobs pay a living wage, and most require skills or certifications that can be procured for under $10,000.

There is no need to go $100,000 in debt for a college degree unless you really want to work in a specific area that requires that degree. I work with students in vocational high schools across Massachusetts. I’ve recently had two former students tell me they had purchased their own home. They are both 23. He’s a foreman for a Department of Public Works. She is in the Operator’s Union.

Making college affordable is a good thing. But considering alternative routes to a good life is important, and many would say necessary.

Cynthia S. Schaedig