ANALYSIS: Associated Press highlights ‘growing concern’ about high schoolers taking manufacturing jobs
A recent report from the Associated Press highlighted concerns among educators, researchers and political leaders that young adults are choosing to forego student loan debt and years of college to instead work.
The nationwide drop in college enrollment is a “crisis,” the AP reported. “Economists say the impact could be dire.”
The article highlighted students who were disenchanted with their education during COVID lockdowns or have “little faith in the value of a college degree.”
One researcher with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, Zack Mabel, said the lower college enrollment creates a “dangerous proposition for the strength of our national economy.” However, his own employer has found that many college degrees fail to provide a positive return on investment.
Some Jackson, Tennessee leaders are similarly concerned.
The AP reported:
Jackson’s leaders say young people are taking restaurant and retail jobs that pay more than ever. Some are being recruited by manufacturing companies that have aggressively raised wages to fill shortages.
“Students can’t seem to resist sign-on bonuses and wages that far exceed any that they’ve seen before,” said Vicki Bunch, the head of workforce development for the area’s chamber of commerce.
Across Tennessee, there’s growing concern the slide will only accelerate with the opening of several new manufacturing plants. The biggest is a $5.6 billion Ford plant near Jackson that will produce electric trucks and batteries. It promises to create 5,000 jobs, and its construction is already drawing young workers.
One Ford employee is 19-year-old Daniel Moody, a plumber who works at the plant. “If I would have gone to college after school, I would be dead broke,” he told the AP. “The type of money we’re making out here, you’re not going to be making that while you’re trying to go to college.”
The AP also wrote that it was “alarming” that low-income individuals and black and Hispanic residents were going to work instead of college.
“In Tennessee’s class of 2021, just 35% of Hispanic graduates and 44% of Black graduates enrolled in college, compared with 58% of their white peers,” the article reported.
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