By Richard Vedder
I am getting tired of going to higher education conferences where rent-seeking college professors lament that America will need millions of new college graduates to take all of the new jobs being created that require high skills. The arguments have been overdone and exaggerated. If, for example, we had a real shortage of skilled people in the STEM disciplines, we should see sharp increases in the relative pay in engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. We have not.
Not only that,we need a lot of fairly skilled persons who do not receive all the necessary training in high school, but who can get those skills at technical or career colleges. I attended a delightful one day forum on higher education put on by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in San Antonio over the weekend. Unlike most meetings on higher ed, the sessions were not lovefests where overpaid college administrators kept telling other overpaid persons how great they are and how they need more money.
I enjoyed several speakers, including Michael Bettersworth, an administrator at Texas State Technical College. Michael --a sharp articulate guy who may be going places -- made the point that psychology graduates are having a terrible time getting jobs, often ending up delivering pizzas. One of my very best students from last year is working at Ruby Tuesday. But those becoming electricians and plumbers and truck drivers, etc., seem to be doing a bit better.
Most of the occupations expected to require the most new employees over the next decade are NOT jobs requiring high levels of technical skills. I think there is a fundamental mismatch developing between the number of college graduates and the employment needs of employers, so the college educated pizza delivery boy may be more than a temporary phenomenon. This is still another reason I am high on many of the non-traditional schools that offer non-degree forms of post secondary training.