My daughter will return to the UK – her birthplace – next month to start a 5-year professional degree program in Materials Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews. Shemade a wise choice. I believe that college is a bad investment unless your child is majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Otherwise they can expect a job flipping burgers or stocking shelves while living at home and struggling to pay crippling student loans. And it’s NOT going to get any better.
About 50% of recent college graduates in the USA are unemployed or underemployed, on a par with Greece (52.8 %) and Spain (52.7 %). Compare this with Germany which has the lowest jobless rate among young people – 7.9% – of any industrialized nation in the world.
Germany, like Austria (8.8 %) and the Netherlands (9.3 %), has a strong state-supported vocational training and apprenticeship program. The US government has reduced funding for such programs, and may eliminate them altogether as federal budgets are cut in a feeble attempt to reduce the burgeoning deficit. Bad policy.
Youth unemployment is more than just a social problem. I predict that young Americans will start defaulting on their student loans en masse, triggering another major financial crisis when THAT Trillion Dollar bubble bursts. It’s hard to service a $50,000 loan to pay for your degree in Contemporary Dance or Sociology when your barista job at Starbucks pays $7.25 an hour.
The US government needs to work closely with industry – especially businesses that are outsourcing jobs – to develop a comprehensive vocational program for Americans under age 25. Such a program would NOT deepen the budget deficit. After all, we’re spending over $8 billion per month on the hopeless Afghan war. Just a fraction of that amount would help millions of young Americans develop skills to truly help make the USA strong again.
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