Rampant Youth Unemployment in the United States and Europe: How we got here and how to get out of the mess. Misleading a generation of young people.
By Gregory Bresiger | February 16, 2015 | gregorybresiger.com
You meant well when you preached the value of higher education to your children. You constantly pushed and prodded your son or daughter: Go to a university. Get a degree. Stay with it. Make good grades.
And, if necessary, borrow lots of money to pay for four years of higher education—-or possibly five or six or seven years. Don’t worry about the debts. You will be able to pay them off in the long run with good wages, you assured them.
Your arguments were often personal and, at times, emotional: You’ll possibly be the first one in the family’s history to have earned a four-year university degree, you told your kids. We’ll all be proud of you. With those sheepskins, you’ll be set for life.
What went wrong?
Now, since your jobless son or daughter started living in your basement, you wonder about your advice. You question the college debt they, and possibly you, took on. You wonder if you, along with school counselors and government officials, didn’t send your child down the wrong road. It is the road
called “the only way to succeed in life is by obtaining a four-year university degree.”
Since World War II, it is a road taken by millions of young Americans and others in Western countries. It is a road with heavy tolls. For example college tuition and fees have risen by 1,000 percent since the late 1970s, according to Andrew Rossi in his documentary “Throwing Rocks at the Ivory Tower.”
College costs, he notes, now average $22,826 for a public college and $44,750 for a private college. And that’s not taking into account the costs of books, housing and other living expenses. Young university students are accumulating huge amounts of red ink (See below).
Yet, despite these incredible costs, university educations became an article of faith in the United States and many other countries.
That’s because many times there is no counter argument ever made to this everyone must go to university idea. Few people make the case for trade school and apprenticeships, says Nicholas Wyman.
He is the author of an important new book, “Job U: How to Find Wealth and Success by Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need.” (CrownBusiness.com, 276 pages, $15)
Wyman’s path to success is a remarkable story. As a young man, he didn’t want a traditional higher education, even though his fatherattemptedtosteerhiminthatdirection. Yet Wyman, who is the CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation, achieved success by following a different path.
He preferred learning how to become a chef to the life of a university student. His father tried to get him to go to a university. Still, culinary education attracted him more when he was growing up in “a lucky country,”
Australia (Lucky because it is a country blessed with great natural resources).
Trade education took Wyman for a great ride. Now he helps others by relating his experience. Today he is a corporate chieftain, the CEO of WRC Group, which specializes in training apprentices. Wyman understands why so many young people after a university education end up in basements or in their parents’ spare rooms. These young people followed the course that parents, government and others in society urged them to take.
Then, after school, they don’t know why their pricey higher educations have put them behind the eight ball. They lose confidence and hope. Many give up. This is a terrible thing for a person with so many years in front of him or her. They are part of a lost generation.
“Today around thirteen million Americans, some with college degrees, are unemployed, and that does not include those who are underemployed or have given up trying to find work,” according to Wyman.
After serving an apprenticeship and achieving a skill that would mean he would never starve, Wyman later obtained an MBA degree. He is today a corporate success story.
Through his research on youth unemployment, he argues that many don’t belonginauniversity.That’sbecausethey don’t thrive in a classroom setting. Some need to do things in a workplace classroom. They should study at a technical institute or a community college, he believes. They should first learn a trade, obtaining some marketable skill that will help them succeed in the private sector.
“Onsite work and mentoring are the core of the training model that today’s entry-level workers need in order to build and sustain life long careers,” he writes.
“Strategically designed apprenticeship programs aggregate, monitor and streamline the changing inputs and relationships required to promote workers and pave paths of sustainable employment,” according to Wyman.
Taking the technical school route, Wyman assets, doesn’t bar one from going to a university. If later a young person gets the urge to go to a university and obtain a traditional four-year degree, that’s fine. But first things first. Young people in their 20s need a marketable skill; one that will get them off to a good start. This will prevent them from a rudderless life in their 20s. This is one in which they are too poor to make it on their own.
Much of what Wyman and others are trying to do is to clean up after the mess of past generations. Over the past sixty years, in the United States, technical training has been discouraged. Those interested in such training were often steered to a traditional four-year university course. Many nations measured their success by the traditional university graduation rate. Like many of the assumptions of the modern welfare state, more is always presumed to be better.
Yet lots of these young people find themselves with too much expensive formal schooling and not enough useful education.
“I never let my schooling, interfere with my education,” wrote Mark Twain, one of America’s least credentialed yet possibly greatest writer. (H.L. Mencken, another self- educated writer who went to an institute as a young man, said reading Twain’s wonderful “Huckleberry Finn” changed his life).
This insistence on universities for everyone is a disastrous policy in several ways:
Young people carry the albatross of student debt while society pays taxes for student loan programs that, like so many other government programs, have costs that are bigger and bigger. The debt numbers among 20 Something’s are awful.
Seven out of ten seniors who graduated from public or private colleges last year had a student loan debt of $28,400, according to credit card industry numbers. This represents a two percent increase from the year before.
“Save for mortgages, student loans constitute the largest component of household debt for Americans. As of June 30, 2014, total outstanding student loan balances disclosed on credit reports stood at $1.12 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported in August,” according to WalletHub.com. “The latest figure represents an increase of $7 billion from the first quarter and $124 billion from a year ago.”
As a young man I had my own experience with student loans, which I will discuss later in this series. But clearly the numbers are stacked against traditional university graduates. For example, as Wyman noted in a recent publication, there’s too many people all trying to succeed at the same thing. He says there are not enough young people with skills the industry needs.
“Every year,” Wyman writes, “the United States produces approximately 2.1 million college graduates, yet only 27 percent of jobs in the U.S. labor market currently require an associate’s degree or higher.
By comparison, more than 47 percent of workers actually hold an associate’s degree, while millions of jobs that require no higher level of education remain vacant begging to be filled.”
We will examine this job market anomaly later in this series when we review some of the good jobs that are open. But, in the meantime, the U.S. Labor Department forecasts this supply and demand imbalance will be growing. In the next seven years, it says, only 23 percent of jobs will require a degree. Yet now this imbalance affects millions of young people.
“The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 averaged 8.2 percent in 2013 (compared to 5.4 percent in 2007), and the underemployment rate for college graduates ages twenty two to twenty seven was 44 percent,” according to Federal Reserve numbers cited by Wyman.
And that’s not the worst of it. In some European nations, such as Spain or Greece, the youth unemployment numbers can be 40 percent to 50 percent or higher. What does this do to a society? (See note below)
And youth employment isn’t necessarily improving much as the economy picks up. According to the latest U.S. Labor Department figures, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent. That’s much better than when the jobless rate was around 10 percent. However, even though unemployment is declining here in the United States, the youth jobless rate remains high—17 percent—and there is another disturbing number in the good news. The labor participation rate remains weak, 62.9 percent rate, a three decade low.
How can unemployment decline yet labor participation not go up?
In part it’s the other side of these grim youth unemployment numbers. It is the millions of college graduates who can’t find work. Let us consider the psychological damage of this one size fits all government policy, which pressures young people to attend universities although many don’t want to go. Yet, when they apply themselves and graduate, bad things still happen. Degrees from prestigious universities
often lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointments among young graduates.
Many of us know these young adults, who have been promised so much if they only obtained degrees. Those numbers lead many people to despair. They quit on society. That means that the unemployment numbers we hear are worse than reported.
The government numbers are rigged because not everyone is counted when people drop out of the job pool. (In mutual funds a similar number blurring takes place. It’s called “survivorship bias.” You no longer count the worse performing funds as part of the fund universe. Therefore, overall fund performance seems better than it actually is when one leaves out the lemons. One thinks of Disraeli’s line, I’m sure purloined from someone: “There are lies, damnable lies and then there are statistics”).
Rigging numbers is tantamount to saying that if in a four quarter football game your team has one lousy quarter, then we just don’t count that one. Or maybe we should not count Seattle’s last disastrous pass in this year’s SuperBowl. Ojala, senor!)
So why are millions of young people dropping out, giving up all hope? How did it happen and what can we do about it?
We will further explore this generation’s problems and how they came about in our next segment on GregoryBresiger.com. And we will hear more from Nicholas Wyman, who in the concluding parts of this series, will provide more on this topic in a Q&A I recently conducted.
Original online article:
http://gregorybresiger.com/rampant-youth- unemployment-in-the-united-states-and-europe- how-we-got-here-and-how-to-get-out-of-the-mess- misleading-a-generation-of-young-people-part-1/
Rampant Youth Unemployment in the United States and Europe: How we got here and how to get out of the mess. Misleading a generation of young people.
February 19, 2015 | gregorybresiger.com
The problem of youth unemployment, those in their 20s without jobs yet many of whom spent years and a small fortune at a traditional university, is worse than the official government statistics lead us to believe. That’s because many job-seeking young college graduates become discouraged. Then they no longer register with employment agencies. They are convinced they have no chance to become self- supporting adults. They drop out of society. (Some of this was recently documented in Charles Murray’s book, “Coming Apart”).
How did this disaster happen over the past few generations?
Besides the force of family influence, in many Western nations there is the enormous force of central governments, pushing this idea of a university for everyone.
Actually I’d say it is central governments that started it because of their enormous spending power. That was the result of their unfortunate embrace of Keynesian economics and the social engineering practices of the modern welfare state.
The latter is representative of a “Best and Brightest” scenario. This is a belief that an intellectual class knows what’s best for allof us. It is the implicit belief that a group of Platonic guardians, employing what the philosopher Montesquieu called “a dictatorship of virtue,” must save us. That, of course, triggers the problem of who will be the guardians. (Please see Note 1 below) The American guardians have been pushing higher education, regardless of whether it was good for everyone or not. This has become a larger part of our society as young people spend more and more years in school.
For example, here in the United States, for decades the federal government has pushed a policy of “everyone must go on to higher education.” Many American policy makers believe higher college graduation rates ensure progress. More government programs are always better and will produce a higher standard of living.
Often even right-wing leaders supposedly committed to smaller government tacitly accept this government will save us argument. (Conservative President Reagan, despite campaign rhetoric, never closed one cabinet level department. He also made no serious move to reduce student loans. They represented good politics, but lousy long term economics. The latter is the problem with other policies in advanced welfare state democracies). Indeed, the implication of all central government welfare programs is that more is always better in every government department. And, welfare state defenders believe, zero based budgeting, or any serious examination of the effectiveness of government spending, is a form of bad manners.
Over the last forty to fifty years U.S. governments, parents and college officials have pressured young people to attend four-year universities and take lots of student loans. That was happening as several
other industrialized nations understood the importance of apprentice programs while much of America, under the spell of the education guardians, did not. (Please click here to see this data in a chart)
Many secondary school students were often discouraged from opting for trade schools and apprentice programs. That’s even though some students have no interest in going to university except as a perceived pathway to a decent, secure economic life. That has been proven by, among others, the work of jobs expert Nicholas Wyman, who we met in the first part of this series.
I saw this college for everyone policy happening in the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, Iwaspartofit.Some40yearsagoIwasa young man graduating from high school and considering my career path. Governments, both state and local, were making it easier to pursue higher education, even for knuckleheads like me. I barely scraped through high school. Yet there were plenty of colleges that wanted me. I’m not sure why. I had disliked much of my classroom experience and only wanted to learn a trade.
This everyone must attend a university was a sea change in American society. It led us to this era of scandalously high youth unemployment rates. There were many factors that would cause these coming high youth unemployment rates.
How did we get here?
First, when I was child in the late 1950s and early 1960s, university generally was considered an experience that should be limited to students with high academic
achievements in their first 12 years of schooling (Certainly not me! I was a numskull, who went to high school summer school every year). Little by little those academic standards started to drop. For example, here in New York City, the city once had a public university that charged no tuition. However, it required that incoming students have an excellent high school average.
City University of New York (CCNY) was open to anyone of any race or background. That’s provided the young person had achieved high grades prior to college. CCNY was then known as “the poor man’s Harvard.” It had been a haven for the children of many poor groups for years, including young Jews many of whom went on to accomplish great things.
But by the late 1960s, some critics said these high standards were racist. Others called CCNY elitist. Those standards ended after the riots of the 1960s. That gave us an open-enrollment standard that only required two things: the young person was a New York resident and he or she had a beating heart (Again, I was barely able to scrape by). This everyone should be admitted standard was adopted by many other universities.
The open-enrollment CCNY quickly became an institution of embarrassingly low standards. Many entering students were incapable of doing high school work, no less able to function at the university level. I attended a city university school for about six months and dropped out.
Surprisingly, for the first time, I actually achieved good grades, but just wasn’t interested. I needed a trade school that would teach me radio journalism, something that fascinated me. I suspect many other students were also bored. They sensed they were in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” to paraphrase General Omar Bradley talking about a disastrous war with China in 1950 (Please see Note 2 below).
But more young college students in the wrong place at the wrong time were right behind me. That’s because of a key second factor in the unmaking of a generation. The federal government started pushing student loan programs. And, as with all federal government programs, it seemed to start so modestly and possibly, at the outset, have reasonable goals: Making higher education available to qualified candidates.
However, as with so many other government programs, it went far beyond its original mandate. Student loans eventually became an expensive nightmare, with out of control spending. This was a pattern I would see happen time and again in the modern American welfare/warfare state that seems to know no limits (Please see Note 3 below).
The student loan programs encouraged everyone to go to college and take loans whether they needed them or not. High student loan delinquency rates ensued at many universities. Today, student loan debt even exceeds credit card debt. I had my experience with student loan debt.
I eventually returned to college by the mid 1970s. I earned my undergraduate degree at Fordham University/Lincoln Center at night between 1974 and 1976 and a graduate degree at New York University the following year. I did this while I worked at a full-time day job. That was a good experience in many ways. It was one that finally taught me to appreciate the sacrifices of my wonderful parents, who had worked hard to get us out of the South Bronx as it was crumbling.
At my first Fordham University orientation meeting in the fall of 1974, I learned about student loans. I’ll never forget a university financial aid official who was explaining them. Everyone should take these low-interest loans, he advised as wide-eyed young people couldn’t believe how fortunate they suddenly were, or appeared to be.
What, someone asked, if you didn’t need them?
Take them anyway, he replied. You can use the money, put it in the bank and make money on the float (Money market accounts, in the inflationary 1970s, were yielding higher rates than student loans, as the flawed policies of the Fed under Arthur Burns were blowing up). Others were taking the money and floating elsewhere as bars around Fordham Lincoln Center in mid-town Manhattan were booming.
Thirdly, because the federal government was virtually giving away these loans for “free” (sic), many students were becoming reckless. They were taking on more debt than they would have under normal circumstances. But something more than new red ink was going on here. The federal government, with its “generous” loan program, was engaging in a yet another kind of social engineering.
It was changing behavior under the guise of promoting higher education. The “here’s your free money” policy was about to wreck or lower the future standard of living of many young people. They would learn the spend and spend lifestyle, which is much the same as what economist John Maynard Keynes—who was everywhere in our economics texts—had advised governments in the 1930s and 1940s that feared depressions and recessions. (See Note 4)
Students would soon be hamstrung with debts for generations to come owing to bad decisions. This happened in large part because college officials and government officials weren’t thinking about the long-term consequences of social policies. They were blinded by the ultimate goal: Get young people into universities, even though many shouldn’t have been there and had little idea of the financial consequences of university education. Indeed, how many adolescents are equipped to make long term decisions about debt when they haven’t obtained their first jobs?
But who could object to more higher education? Unfortunately, the government’s college for everyone policy, on one level, became very popular. Pol after pol called for the expansion of these programs, with little worry about the damage they could do.
Students at my schools were taking out these loans as though they were free Halloween candy: the more the better. That is, of course, until they started paying the price for eating too much candy. Some students didn’t graduate, but now began life with big debts. Others graduated but had little in the way of marketable skills. They were often unemployed or underemployed; sometimes for years.
Others obtained degrees but, as with most 20-Somethings, they earned little because they were just beginning careers. These people had difficulty getting by. That’s because they were trying to establish themselves as independent adults who didn’t live in their parents’ spare rooms. That’s something a lot of young people must do today.
I was lucky. I never swallowed the offered lolly pop that looked so inviting. Since I worked full-time during the day, I was able to adopt a pay as you go system. This was a heretical concept for most Western governments today that never heard of the 19th century British prime minister Gladstone (See Note 5) and for a generation of young people who, based on popular media depictions and tax policies, think thrift is a curse word.
I never took any student loans. I never understood exactly why I should take on debts when I couldn’t be sure I would ever be making big bucks (Through my college years I was an office boy at a law firm. When I moved out of town and got my first job in small market radio, after obtaining two degrees, I was making less than my last salary as the young man in the office who made the coffee, posted the mail and delivered packages).
Thank God I didn’t become a burden to my parents. They had their own problems paying all the costs of living in New York City.
In my 20s and into my mid 30s, I worked for various small market radio stations and newspapers. I never made a lot of money in those days. Actually, I’ve never made a lot
of money in any days but a big part of this website is about helping people with modest incomes follow sensible spending and investing practices that allow them to reach financial independence. (Spend rationally. Buy low-cost index funds. Stay the investing and saving course though dollar-cost averaging over the long term).
So despite the urging of that college official, student loans never ruined my life. But they could have done so. Having to make student loan payments on top of paying my rent and running a car that was required for my work would have been very difficult for me in my 20s and 30s.
Still, millions of other people of my generation, and lots more of the generations since, weren’t as lucky. For example, I had a friend who went to Fordham with me at night. He would go on to earn an MBA and to have a fairly successful business career. Even though he never lived recklessly, it took him some thirty years to pay off his student loans!
Yet there is another way; a way of avoiding many of these problems of young people in modern day indentured servitude. Go to a technical institute or a community college. Obtain a marketable skill. For example, my wife, the ever comely Suzanne Hall, by her 50s had gone through a procession of low- paying jobs throughout most of her career. That was despite two university degrees. (In the final segment, we’ll list some of today’s technical jobs). My wife changed her life when she obtained this technical education, which was achieved over about a year
She obtained professional certificates and became a plane mechanic for a major airline. Suzanne has always had a mechanical bent (She got it from her brothers, one of whom
built his house from the ground up). She now makes a much better salary and has a better compensation package than ever.
She also has a set of skills that will help her the rest of her life.
My wife’s story is one that interested job expert and corporate executive Nicholas Wyman. We’ll speak to him in the last segment on this series on youth unemployment. Please check back with GregoryBresiger.com in a few days.
Note 1: Judge Learned Hand stated the problem of the Platonic Guardians: “For myself, it would be most irksome to be ruled by a bevy of Platonic Guardians, even if I knew how to choose them, which I assuredly do not.” See “The Bill of Rights,” by Learned Hand, p 73 (Atheneum, New York, 1979)
Note 2: For more on the horrible Korean War, please see my chapter on the Korean War in my series on Modern America at War, “What Next and Next?”
http://gregorybresiger.com/what-next-and-next-a- shorthand-history-of-america-at-war-part-v-the-korean- war-1950-53/
Note 3: Please see my history of Social Security, “The Revolution of 1935” at mises.com
I would say that the student loan program followed
the Gregory Bresiger ABC/XYZ theory of government. Even when most people agree that the government should do something, the government is given the authority to do ABC. Years later it has gone far beyond what anyone originally authorized or imagined. The government, at the prodding of a self-serving bureaucracy and special interest groups that say their program can never be reduced, is now doing XYZ. The spending burdens for the taxpayer become huge as following generations learn.
I’ll use Social Security as an example. It began as a two percent tax—-one percent for the worker and one percent for the used. Today, including Medicare, it is 15.30 percent. The taxes are split between the employer and the worker (Unless, of course, you are self-employed, then the taxes are all yours). And the system, despite frequent increases, is running in the red over the last few years. The indications are, one way or other, the payroll taxes—I will not use the word “contributions” as euphemistically used by the people who support the system as is—-will have to be raised again as they have many times since the founding of the system in 1935.
Economist Milton Friedman said of the government bureaucracy, once established, it is usually impossible to end. Friedman had first-hand experience. Working as a government economist during World War II, he invented the withholding tax as a way for the government to get money faster. It was called “the win the war tax.” It was supposed to end when the government won the war.
Of course, it never did. The U.S. income tax was passed in 1913 with the justification that it was only going to affect the five percent or so of the richest Americans—it would be the rich man’s tax—so why worry? Of course, the income tax is anything but the rich man’s tax as its touches, direct or indirect, almost everyone. These are the unintended consequences of government taxing and spending. For Friedman’s rule in the withholding tax please see “Two Lucky People,”
Milton and Rose D. Friedman, p 123 (University of Chicago Press, 1998).
Note 4: In college I studied economics. I rejected the dominant Keynesian economics of endless government deficits—Keynes famously wrote in his “The General Theory” that the government had to “keep the boom going”—and happened upon the Austrian School of Economics. The latter was a marginal utility school that was born in the 1870s. It didn’t demonize savings as causing depressions. Indeed, I found that, before the triumph of Keynesian economics, a forgotten depression was ended without huge government spending. Please see my “Two Ways to Fight an Economic Depression.”
Many of my conclusions come from Joseph Schumpeter’s brilliant work, especially his book “Business Cycles.”
Note 5: William E. Gladstone was a remarkable 19th century leader in Britain. Four times prime minister and several times Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the “Peoples William,” as he was affectionately known, could never have been a leader of a major democracy today. He had a passion for thrift and believed any excess public money should be returned to the taxpayers. Gladstone hated waste and as chancellor had tried to abolish the income tax (In part because he believed the nature of the income tax led governments to pry into people’s private affairs. “The inquisition it entails is a most serious disadvantage, and the frauds to which it leads are an evil such as it is not possible to characterize in terms too strong.” Shades of Lois Lerner of IRS fame! For the Gladstone quote see “For Good and Evil, the Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization,” p 355, Charles Adams).
Gladstone resigned as prime minister for the last time in 1894 after “the blubbering cabinet.” Why did he leave? He was defeated in his repeated attempts to bring home rule to Ireland—-which would have put Ireland on the same self-governing path as Canada, Australia and New Zealand—and because he was outraged by the military estimates, which he thought were ridiculous. For the blubbering cabinet, see Roy Jenkins’ “Gladstone.” Adams also writes that Gladstone saw taxes as the “Almighty’s check” on war (Adams, p355). He believed low taxes kept great military establishments at bay. Frank Chodorov, a 1940s journalist, made the point that it is the income tax that leads to leviathans. He made these points in a neglected masterpiece, “The Income Tax, Root of All Evil.”
Original online article:
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Rampant Youth Unemployment in the United States and Europe: How we got here and how to get out of the mess. Misleading a generation of young people.
February 23, 2015 | gregorybresiger.com
There’s a terrible irony of youth unemployment in the United States and in Europe: Millions of young college graduates can’t find a job. Millions of technical jobs go unfilled. That’s because companies can’t find the right people for many jobs. (Please see note after Q & A).
It’s a big problem. Many companies are coming up with their own training programs, not waiting for the government to fix the problem. Still, some governments are starting to pay attention and are looking at private/public training partnerships.
Here’s the good part of this sad story: When people do obtain technical skills needed in the private sector, there’s usually no problem finding a job. In fact, companies vigorously pursue them, says a jobs expert.
There are more jobs than creditable candidates for these jobs, according to John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology and the Creative Group. He says “demand exceeds supply.” Businesses, he adds, will offer these well- trained young people generous salaries and benefits.
“When firms identify promising candidates, they need to hire quickly and be prepared to extend compensations and benefits packages that beat what competing firms are willing to offer,” according to Reed.
However, many young people are not in this category. The problem of flawed higher education policies, of putting young people in a debt hole that it may take them decades to get out of by insisting that they all must get university degrees, has been analyzed by a gentleman I recently interviewed for a story I did for the Sunday New York Post Business section.
Nicholas Wyman, the CEO of WPC Group, offers solutions for your sons or daughters. Following his advice won’t guarantee success. But they will be less likely to face years of unhappiness in their 20s. His advice: Obtain marketable skills and not university degrees that are little use in securing the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Wyman is the author of “Job U: How to Find Wealth and Success by Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need.” He has studied and documented the problems of youth unemployment. He’s found many young people with university degrees, lots of student debt, but no job prospects. Most of our conversation never made it into the paper. So I have decided to include an extensive Q&A in this concluding segment of our series.
Gregory Bresiger: Mr. Wyman, please explain why you are such a critic of the traditional everyone should go to university mindset?
Nicholas Wyman: Funny you should put it in that context. Before my book, I actually had another eight bylines discussing this. And they were all around the idea of throwing out the window the concept of college for everyone.
Gregory Bresiger: And then?
Nicholas Wyman: My idea is to find new pathways to great jobs as a way to building a better economy.
Gregory Bresiger: Why is this often the better way for many young people?
Nicholas Wyman: There’s no question that employers I have talked to and researched say the nature of their employees skills needs to change pretty rapidly. And I think we are having an impact.
Gregory Bresiger: How can this change our economy, which is growing, but is still leaving behind large segments of young people?
Nicholas Wyman: It is creating a perfect storm because, without training, a lot of (young) people really won’t be landing secure positions
Gregory Bresiger: For many young people, landing a secure position isn’t happening…
Nicholas Wyman: Yes. It isn’t.
Gregory Bresiger: Part of the problem you detail in your interesting book is the lack of untraditional career pathways in the United States; the overemphasis on traditional university education and the lack of emphasis on apprentice programs, especially compared to other nations with advanced economies.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, it says very clearly that the United States has a long way to go. (See chart in part 2 of this series)
Gregory Bresiger: And so?
Nicholas Wyman: If you look at over the last ten years, the number of apprenticeships has plummeted in the United States. At a time when they really should have gone in the opposite direction. And if you look at the same period in the United Kingdom, the amount of apprenticeships has actually doubled.
Gregory Bresiger: The U.K. is looking at apprenticeships much more seriously as a tool to reduce youth unemployment?
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, some of these countries are looking at it as more than a labor market mechanism.
Gregory Bresiger: The British noted that some of their neighbors like Spain and Greece had tremendous youth unemployment and they wanted to avoid it?
Nicholas Wyman: In the U.K., they’re making a conscious decision to look at the spiraling youth unemployment in a lot of the neighboring countries. And you look at some countries like Greece and Spain, they can have forty or fifty percent youth unemployment. The U.K. said we would rather have young people involved in some sort of on or off the job training. And to be honest with you, it’s actually working. The youth unemployment numbers are fairly stable there.
Gregory Bresiger: But apprenticeships, you believe, still have a bad reputation in some quarters?
Nicholas Wyman: From an individual’s perspective, it’s often gotten a bad rap. Many don’t understand what I call “the power of apprenticeship.”
Gregory Bresiger: Well, you certainly understand that power in your life since you initially passed on going to a university so you could become an apprentice.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, I do.
Gregory Bresiger: Still, some employers are still a little wary about apprenticeships.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, they worry that apprenticeships are only four people in a building construction project associated with unions. That’s definitely not the case.
Gregory Bresiger: But maybe our central government is ready to see how important this can be to reducing youth employment…
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, the federal government has put $100 million on the table.
Gregory Bresiger: And so?
Nicholas Wyman: That $100 million is for partnerships with the state offices of the department of labor and some community colleges and some employers working in partnership to get training for training’s sake.
Gregory Bresiger: These programs must do what and what must they avoid?
Nicholas Wyman: There’s no use in training people for industries that don’t actually have a skilled need. So I’m very hopeful that they are trying to use this $100 million investment to try and close the skills gap. (Please see sidebar below on unfilled jobs)
Gregory Bresiger: You’re optimistic about this proposal?
Nicholas Wyman: I’m really rather hopeful that they will use this $100 million investment to try to close the skills gap. At the same, this I hope will engage a whole generation of young people who might otherwise end up off the road or off the rail.
Gregory Bresiger: But didn’t government policies, in large part, cause this youth unemployment problem in the first place by subsidizing university attendance with the easy- money policies of low-interest college loans?
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, you’re right. But I believe that government has a role to play. But ultimately it’s up to the industry to decide what it wants to do with this stuff.
Gregory Bresiger: Sir, you’ve pointed out some state programs that are working, such as one in South Carolina. Still, I must confess that I have seen government programs to generate new jobs often spend lots of taxpayer dollars and they create very few or no new jobs.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, I think your observation is right. As we know the government programs tend to work as well as the money is there. But as soon as they turn the tap off, the whole thing falls apart. So we really want to see private companies say what are our skills needs.
Gregory Bresiger: You want substantial private sector jobs that will help young people start out in careers. You want jobs that will be there long after a ministry or a government is gone.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes, but the problem we are fighting there is the cycle of governments at a state or federal government is shorter and shorter. And when I talk to employers I tell them that they need to take a long range point of view in skilled development. You can’t really do that if you are a company that is setting up a skilled building program based on incentives and handouts from government. As soon as the tap turns off, you’ll back off. I noticed that a lot of companies around the world cut back on their apprenticeship programs during the downturn and those companies were cut short as soon as the economy peaked up.
Gregory Bresiger: Why?
Nicholas Wyman: In demand people tend not to shift around.
Gregory Bresiger: And you’re trying to give young people the skills that will make them in demand. So they’ll want to stay at a company because they are doing well.
Nicholas Wyman: Yes.
Gregory Bresiger: Mr. Wyman, thank you very much.
Nicholas Wyman: You’re welcome.
Jobs That Are Often Unfilled
*Big Data Engineer
Launch or advance a company’s data initiatives. Earn between $119,000 and 168,000 a year.
*Wireless Network Engineer
Professionals who research, design and run wireless networks. Annual pay is between $99,000 and $137,000
*Mobile Applications Developer
Develop applications for tablets and smart phones. Earn between $107,000 and $161,000
Organizations need this kind of professional to manage their Internet and Intranet. This will ensure the integrity of their emails and social media. They’re also willing to pay between $80,000 and $112,000 a year.
*Interactive Creative Director
Run interactive marketing and advertising campaigns. Earn between $100,000 and $180,000
*Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians and Vascular Technologists
Use imaging technology to help physicians diagnose cardiac problems. They also help physicians treat problems with cardiac and vascular system, such as blood clots. They also make some $29 an hour or about $60,350 a year.
They clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care. They also educate patients in ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Salary: $70,210 a year or about $34 an hour.
*Medical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
They collect samples and perform tests, analyzing body fluids, tissue and other substances. They make about $48,000 a year or about $23 an hour.
Vet techs perform medical tests under the supervision of licensed veterinarians and help veterinarians with animal injuries. Pay: About $30,000 a year or about $14.50 an hour.
*Paralegals and Legal Assistants
They perform a variety of tasks helping lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research and drafting documents. Salary: Some $47,000 a year or about $23 an hour.
Source: Robert Half Technology and Creative Group, Nicholas Wyman, U.S. Census Bureau
In wrapping up this series I will make a few observations: Yes, it is a difficult road for young people today. Many are over credentialed, but under educated. However, as Wyman and others note, there are ways out of the mess for those governments and individuals ready to think in new ways about the nature of employment in a time of dizzying change. Maybe the road back from disastrously high levels of youth unemployment is to look at the jobs of today and figure out how to obtain the skills to get one. Muy buena suerte.
One last note: My thanks for the editorial assistance of Liam Judge, who is an essential part of GregoryBresiger.com
Original online article:
http://gregorybresiger.com/rampant-youth- unemployment-in-the-united-states-and-europe- how-we-got-here-and-how-to-get-out-of-the-mess- misleading-a-generation-of-young-people-a-way-out- of-this-mess-part-3/