I suspect that this report, if anything, understates the “underemployment” problem. That is because there are now quite a few jobs that generally exclude high-school graduates not because they couldn’t possibly do the work, but because there are so many college graduates in the labor force that employers can afford to screen out non-graduates. This is the “credential inflation” problem... If it were possible to do an analysis of the labor force that looked only at jobs that require post-secondary education in a knowledge sense (rather than a credential sense), the underemployment percentage would increase greatly.Charles Murray:
What Richard Vedder's stunning statistics about the jobs of college graduates tell us is an indictment of a system that has held up a false god, the BA, as something that is required for social respectability. It is a system that doesn't even think about helping all young people find something they love to do and teaching them how to do it well.Jackson Toby:
If we keep in mind the difference between "jobs" and "careers," the fact that college graduates take low-level jobs in the years immediately following graduation is not necessarily a failure of college education or of the graduates themselves.Patrick Deneen
What disturbs me about arguments such as those found in the Vedder report is the implication that education should be fitted to the narrow vocational needs of airline attendants and cashiers, that an appropriate education will prepare them as efficiently as possible for a life of menial labor. I lament that a major thrust is afoot to dismantle whatever remnant of our older liberal arts tradition persists and to replace it with measurable forms of study that produce narrowly-trained careerists.Carson Jerema
Of course, people can pursue an education for reasons other than employment or economic gain, but that is not how education is marketed either in the United States or in Canada, and creeping credentialism has long been flagged as a problem on both sides of the border.
The obvious beneficiaries of ever increasing enrolment in college and universities are, of course, the institutions themselves, who gain tuition and funding for each student they admit, but also businesses who can use the holding of a degree as a signal device without having to invest resources into properly vetting job candidates. And, as Vedder notes, the trend points to growing inefficiencies in the education system. Whereas not that long ago, it took the system 12 or 13 years to prepare most people for adulthood, it now takes 17 or 18 years.
Vedder holds that many of these students have bought the line promoted by the College Board and the education establishment: namely, more education translates into higher lifetime wages. This is promoted by those heavily involved in higher education, starting with the Obama administration...