OK. I’ll admit to fretting about plenty of things these days, most being totally out of my ability to control. One involves the continuing lack of good-paying, sustainable jobs as the nation’s economy continues its slow climb out of the deep hole of recession. Recent — or soon to be recent — college grads are among the many who are caught in the squeeze of too many chasing too few jobs.
Another involves the trend to abandon liberal arts education in favor of preparing students for what in many cases are low-paying jobs in health care and retail.
Here’s from an AP story on The Huffington Post, “In Weak Job Market, One In Two College Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed“:
The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.
A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.
Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.
An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.
Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.
While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.
Oh boy. A nation of bedpan changers. Really?
I always be an advocate for education — and I still believe that a liberal arts education has value. But as tuition and fees continue to increase — and students take on substantial debt — I expect we are entering an era when a college education will be viewed primarily as a training program that offers some hope of employment.
And I believe that stories like this one also from The Huffington Post — “The 13 Most Useless Majors, From Philosophy to Journalism” — will begin to attract considerably more attention from students and parents.
Of course, what do I know? I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism. But hey. In the long run, do we really want colleges and universities to be nothing more than trade schools? And if students are forced to abandon the study of liberal arts, what will our culture reflect without writers, artists, musicians and so on?
Something tells me that reflecting on the great accomplishments in accounting is not going to be all that satisfying.