We Need to Go Beyond Academics to Prepare for the Future of Work

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According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. spends roughly 0.1% of its GDP on active labor market policies (such as job search assistance or job training), which is one-sixth of what Switzerland and Germany spend. Long-term decreases in investment in career and technical education as well as other forms of vocational and professional training have made “college-for-all” practically the only route to economic opportunity in the U.S.

There are at least four major problems with focusing policy solutions only on the academic pathway to opportunity:

    1. The college-for-all strategy isn’t working for most people. Overall, 69% of Americans age 25 and over have less than a bachelors’ degree, according to the Census Bureau.
    2. The college-for-all approach assumes that skills can only be taught in the classroom. Outside the trades (registered apprenticeships) and licensed professions, there are few well-recognized, work-based equivalents to an academic degree in the U.S. that effectively signal an individual has reached a certain level of competency.
    3. Focusing on a single college-prep pathway does not actually address the tracking…


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