The United States does not send enough of its young people to college. The apparent truth of this statement is what fuels both President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative and much of the rhetoric behind any proposed increased in government spending for education. America is simply not producing enough trained people for the fastest-growing, high-paying jobs.

The truth of this, however, is actually a little debatable. According to a piece by Andrew McIlvaine in the trade publication Human Resources Executive:

A new report predicts a shortfall in the number of college graduates needed by employers in 2018. But many companies may be overemphasizing the value of college degrees at the expense of other forms of training, such as apprenticeships.

The new report is the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce paper by Anthony Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl on projections of jobs and education requirements for the next decade, which demonstrates that America is simply not producing enough people with college degrees or vocational training.

But then, we really don’t need all of these education programs, said economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University. According to the McIlvaine article:

Many employers require college degrees for jobs that once required only a high school diploma, says Vedder. He cites the Supreme Court’s ruling in Griggs v. Duke Power in 1971, which put restrictions on the use of aptitude tests for employment decisions, as a big reason for this. “Ever since Griggs, employers have shied away from aptitude testing,” he says. “Instead, they look for credentials provided by outside institutions, such as colleges. It’s led to employers overemphasizing the importance of a college degree.”

Vedder believes that companies should offer more apprenticeships and job training programs.

This is an interesting point. Griggs v. Duke Power, a racial discrimination case, is generally forgotten by higher education advocates. Still, it doesn’t seem terribly relevant in terms of job training. Perhaps apprenticeship programs are more efficient than college at preparing people for jobs, but this is mostly an academic argument. Good luck finding those apprenticeship programs. [Image via]

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