Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Skilled Trade Workers Needed More Than College Grads

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Skilled Trade Workers Needed More Than College Grads

Article excerpt

Lou Glazer of Michigan Future Inc. often tells audiences about good-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. However, audiences are generally skeptical.

"They tell me, `There is no such thing,' " he said. Yet when he speaks with employers, they tell him, "We have lots of skills and trade jobs," which pay better than occupations requiring a college degree, "and very few people capable of doing them."

So Glazer's Ann Arbor, Mich., non-profit group funded a University of Michigan survey to get the facts. And, guess what? "The employers' perception is accurate," he said. This troubles Glazer. "This is where all the job growth is occurring, and no one's preparing for it," he said. Currently, one job in four is of the skilled trade or technician type. Most projections say that in 10 years 50 percent to 60 percent are going to be these types of jobs. "Most people believe that the only reliable path to good-paying work is by obtaining a four-year college degree or more," said Donald Grimes, labor economist at the University of Michigan, who collaborated with Glazer on the survey. "But it's just not true. Most people who have middle-class salaries don't have college degrees. We're doing a disservice to students and (the myth) creates shortages in other fields. We're discouraging people from these other career options," Grimes said. The drumbeat about the value of a college degree is incessant. At some high schools, students hear little else. Yet only 23 percent of young people earn a college degree, according to Vance Grant of the National Library of Education in Washington. According to Grimes, you don't need a bachelor's degree to land jobs with salaries that will put you in the upper half of wage-earners in your community. Grimes and Glazer studied 54 job fields across the Midwest with median annual earnings of at least $33,000, which is 10 percent over the median income for the region of $30,000. …

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