It is a discussion that rears its head every time the country has economic problems: just what good is college, anyway? A recent research study published by CQ Researcher titled “Is a 4-year degree the only path to a secure future” indicates that the answer is no. The report, by Thomas J. Billitteri at CQ Researcher, explains that:

With college costs soaring, skilled jobs such as welders and medical technicians in demand and millions of young adults ill-prepared for the rigors of a university education, some policy experts argue that while post-high-school education is vital in today’s global economy, a four-year degree may be unnecessary for economic security — and perhaps even ill-advised.

This is not a huge surprise. Under President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative the goal is to create an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020.

In coming years jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. At this point demand for people qualified to work in such jobs remains strong; there are not enough people for these jobs.

The CQ Researcher report also indicates that the United States does not currently have training programs in place to prepare Americans for high skill jobs that require extensive training but do not require a bachelor’s degree.

It seems the crucial question should not be “Is a 4-year degree the only path to a secure future” but, rather “How should schools train Americans for jobs.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer