August 26, 2010

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The problem with bubbles is that they produce malinvestment:

Workers with specialized skills like electricians, carpenters and welders are in critically short supply in many large economies, a shortfall that marks another obstacle to the global economic recovery, a research paper by Manpower Inc (NYSE:MAN – News) concludes.

“It becomes a real choke-point in future economic growth,” Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said. “We believe strongly this is really an issue in the labor market.” . . . Since the 1970s, parents have been told that a university degree — and the entry it affords into the so-called knowledge economy — was the only track to a financially secure profession. But all of the skilled trades offer a career path with an almost assured income, Joerres said, and make it possible to open one’s own business.

In the United States, recession and persistent high unemployment may lead parents and young people entering the workforce to reconsider their options.

Read the whole thing. [LATER: That link seems to be dead, but try this one.]

UPDATE: More here:

As a public school teacher, I’ve been saying for some time that the entire “No Child Left Behind – Every Kid Has To Go To College” mentality would have just this sort of negative, and unintended consequence. Public High school used to have big shop departments—woodshop, auto repair, plumbing, welding, etc. Now, the government’s emphasis on high-stakes academic tests in measuring school quality has resulted in reduction or elimination of non-academic classes. Students are being told that college is their only hope.

It all makes sense from the school’s point of view. Schools need students to buy into the college mentality so they will concentrate on the sort of knowledge and skills that will help them score well on standardized academic tests (in Michigan, that’s the ACT for high school students). Students scores on standardized tests determine whether a school is deemed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or is failing. Failing schools suffer a number of sanctions, none of which are pleasant for administrators or teachers.

College prep classes help schools meet AYP and avoid sanctions. Shop classes do not. So the shop classes have to go.

Read the whole thing.

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