Plumbing or auto repair can’t be outsourced, goes the thinking. With household finances in disarray, accountants are assured of work for years to come.
Even jobseekers need stylists to keep up appearances. Bartenders are in demand, good times or bad. Ditto for computer programmers, heavy equipment operators, culinary staffs, carpenters and health care workers. A standard, four-year college degree simply isn’t required.
“A large subset of our population should not go to college, “ said Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University.
“The number of new jobs requiring a college degree is now less than the number of young adults graduating from universities, so more and more graduates are filling jobs for which they are academically overqualified,” Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Vocational schools are experiencing big spikes in enrollment as a result of so much unemployment, says Betty Krump, executive director of the American Technical Education Association. She adds enrollment is also up because families are seeking an alternative to costly four-year colleges for their children.
And Krump expects the subsequent success of those grads to quell the notion that vocational schools “are for dumb kids.”
"There have been dramatic changes in this business," adds Dr. Barry Mack, director of CV-TEC, a vocational school in New York’s Champlain Valley. "The focus has changed from just jobs to productive careers and lifelong learning."
Revenue at for-profit technical and trade schools has jumped by over 12% over the last 12 months, compared to average growth between 5% and 6% in 2006 and 2007, according to the financial analysis firm Sageworks.
School-directory.net, an online guide to vocational programs, states, “Vocational training, once considered a line of career building for the academically and economically less privileged, has metamorphosed into a high level of technical education, with specialized branches like robotics, computer networking, environmental technology and the like.”