Some US states are making money available for high school graduates so they can learn skills to help them find tech jobs without a college DEGREES.
An example is the northeastern state of Connecticut. It has invested $70 million to put youth and adults through short-term training programs that can lead to well-paying tech jobs.
Some states see such programs as a good solution as college costs continue to rise and businesses struggle to find qualified tech workers.
The programs are known as “non-degree skills training”. They have helped people like Mohameth Seck, who dropped out of college after two years. Seck said he wanted to work in technology, but the classes he was offered in a traditional college program “were not really interesting” to him. He also said that traditional college takes a long time to complete.
So Seck decided to enter a year-long computer training program run by a non-profit organization. Today, the 25-year-old teaches computer coding at a skills training center, or academy, in Stamford, Connecticut. Seck said friends who graduated from the program also have good jobs.
The academy where Seck teaches is operated by a company called Synchrony. Instructors teach web design, management, and other relevant subjects to current high school students and recent high school graduates.
Nicole Samaniego is one of the students. She told the online publication The Hechinger Report that at first, she wanted to study some form of engineering. But after taking lessons at the academy, she had other ideas. “After doing this program for almost five months now, I saw that I wanted to change my career,” she said.
When she starts school at the University of Connecticut later this month, she will focus her studies on computer science. For students who do not plan to attend college, the academy offers job search assistance.
Niall Dammando is a leader in the Connecticut Office of the Workforce strategy. He said academies like the one run by Synchrony can help a state’s finances. That’s because skilled tech workers are likely to make more money and pay more state taxes. Dammando said this is true INCENTIVE for the state to put workers into higher paying jobs.
Bridgette Gray works for a non-profit organization called Opportunity@Work. It requires employers to hire people who do not have college degrees. Gray said her son dropped out of college after one term and took classes with a group called Per Scholas that offers technology training both online and across the US. She said her son now earns more than $90,000 a year at the age of 27.
Research conducted by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce showed that people who earn a college degree earn about 84 percent more over their lifetime. But not everyone can get into, pay for, or do well in college.
David Soo runs an organization called Jobs for the Future. He said the college model that has been in place for the past 40 years doesn’t work for everyone. And that’s especially true for students who are black, Hispanic, or whose families don’t make a lot of money. “We have to find a better way to serve those students,” Soo said.
Brad Hershbein, with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, agrees. In the past, he said, employers would take on inexperienced workers and then train them for better jobs as they got older. But at some point, that model became costly, and businesses decided to depend on colleges to provide that kind of training.
But now, many businesses are in dire need of trained workers. To fill this need, some companies are setting up their own academies or hiring students from places like Synchrony. Big tech companies like IBM and Google have started their own programs because they can train workers faster than universities.
However, recently, some businesses have reduced the number of their employees due to concerns about an economic slowdown. Among the tech companies announcing job cuts are Robinhood, Oracle, Shopify, SoundCloud, Netflix and Coinbase.
Such job cuts lead to more people looking for work. As a result, industry experts say that when a company is considering hiring two people with the same skills, the one with a college degree is more likely to get the job.
Anthony Carnevale is the director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. He said while job training is good, it’s not 100 percent accurate to tell people they can’t benefit from a college degree.
One reason companies may hire college graduates is because they think they may have better communication and teamwork skills.
To compensate, a nonprofit job training organization called YearUp is looking to provide that kind of guidance as well. Gerald Chertavian, who runs the organization, said YearUp includes training on how people can succeed in office environments, rather than just learning how to write code or design websites.
In the end, even experts who say it’s good to get a college degree recognize that there can be reasons not to go to college. “The best outcome is that people have choices,” said Georgetown’s Carnevale. “And that we PROVIDED that all choices lead to good work.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
And I’m Faith Pirlo.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a story from The The Hechinger Reporta nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
The words in this story
graduation– n. a person who has completed a period of schooling such as high school or college
DEGREES – n. a document showing that a person has completed a term of school
strategy – n. a careful plan to complete something or achieve a goal over a period of time
INCENTIVE – n. something that makes a person want to take on a task or project
benefit – n. a good result or effect
PROVIDED – v. to make sure something happens
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