Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Trending from G/L: The Changing Workforce and Making Good College Decisions

There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it? / The Graduate

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree and an executive position at a corporation is still a good option for many high school students, some may want to think their route to employment a little differently.

NPR recently ran a story about high paying trade jobs sitting empty while high school grads line up for university classes. The article discusses the perception that a bachelor’s degree is the fulfillment of the American dream, and the path to a good job.

Unfortunately, the reality right now is that a lot of college grads are having a rough time landing a job while industries are on the hunt for employees with different skill sets. Industries across the board are talking about a “skills gap” that exists as they struggle to fill mid-level technical positions.

For decades, parents and high school counselors have placed an emphasis on guiding students toward colleges for economic reasons, and in some cases, because of an outdated image of non-degreed workers being unskilled. Those attitudes now may be shifting. Many students who obtain certifications and mid-level skills and experience at technical schools have plenty of job offers, at good salaries, without needing to attend four-year programs, or incur large student loans.

These mid-level skills can be used in the electrical industries related to control systems or automation. The IT world, for example, has tremendous opportunities in application web development and computer network technology. They may require certifications and hands-on training but they don’t require a four-year degree.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) quotes a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute that says over the next decade, nearly 3½ million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap

Not every high school student wants or needs a bachelor’s degree to gain entry to a successful career. Let’s hope that we accept the needs of our changing economy so that we can help students make good choices. There are great technical schools that are using state-of-the-art technology to educate students in companies and fields where they will excel.

Ranken Technical College in St. Louis is an outstanding example of how schools are preparing students for a changing world. Ranken is focused on aligning its programs with industry needs so it can provide skills-based learning and job placement. Approximately 80 percent of their students are involved in work-based learning at any given time which pays off for them and for their future employers.

The future doesn’t have to be in plastics – there are lots of choices in lots of different areas. We might just need to think a little differently about how we approach them.

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications is a brand-driven marketing agency based in St. Louis, Missouri that specializes in higher education marketing. If you’re looking to update your university’s branding or enrollment outreach, please call 314-727-5850 or by clicking here.